Supporting the Attainment of Disadvantaged Pupils in Schools

With the cost of living crisis affecting an increasing number of families across the UK, it's more crucial than ever for those working in education to support disadvantaged pupils.

hands raised in the classroom

It's vital to understand key processes to offer this support and be aware of the resources available to give an extra helping hand to those who need it most.

The Pupil Premium

Initially rolled out in 2011, the pupil premium is a government initiative which provides funding to improve education outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in England's schools.

The policy has undoubtedly positively impacted disadvantaged children across education in several ways. However, it's still essential for schools to focus on supporting the attainment of disadvantaged children, as some families living in poverty may still miss out on eligibility.

Before the pandemic, it was estimated that a third of UK children were living in poverty, with that number set to rise once more with the ongoing cost of living crisis. So how can schools ensure they're doing all they can to support disadvantaged pupils?

Supporting Disadvantaged Pupils

There are several ways you can support disadvantaged pupils. Methods range from inside the classroom to wider ideas, such as implementing school-wide policies to facilitate equality and support.

Start With the Classroom

You can support the attainment of disadvantaged students by providing them with additional support or resources, such as extra tutoring, after-school programmes and mentorship opportunities. These offerings benefit students who may not have access to resources at home.

Providing specialised learning materials and consistent access to digital learning tools can help bridge gaps between students who need access to helpful resources outside of the classroom.

It's also important to ensure that your learning environment engages all students. Physical and digital tools such as interactive whiteboards or audio-visual aids are an engaging way to teach students collaboratively.

Fostering an open dialogue with your students can also create a safe space that encourages equal participation and collaboration between pupils.

Adopting a School-Wide Approach to Equal Learning

It's essential to ensure your school's policies work towards creating equal learning opportunities for all, regardless of background or level of disadvantage. 

Policies could include assistance with transportation costs for those who cannot afford it or ensuring any school fees are affordable for low-income houses.

An important aspect of consistently providing the best experience possible for disadvantaged students is keeping up-to-date on the latest schemes, laws and regulations.

By staying informed, you'll be better prepared to offer advice and guidance on how disadvantaged students and their families can take advantage of beneficial services when necessary.

Department of Education Advice

Research by NFER has identified seven building blocks schools can utilise to support the attainment of disadvantaged students.

The research outlined these seven factors were commonplace in schools that successfully raised disadvantaged pupils' attainment.

  1. Whole-school ethos of attainment for all — Schools have an ethos of high attainment for all pupils, no matter their background. There is a complete avoidance of stereotyping disadvantaged pupils.
  2. Addressing behaviour and attendance — Effective behaviour strategies are put in place. Successful schools respond swiftly to poor attendance and provide strong social and emotional support to students and families. 
  3. High-quality teaching for all — There's an emphasis on 'quality teaching first.' High teaching standards are set and performances are monitored.
  4. Meeting individual learning needs — Staff identify each student's challenges and interests, shaping learning strategies around this information.
  5. Deploying staff effectively — Schools use their best teachers to work with students who require the most support.
  6. Data-driven strategies — Data is used to identify student learning needs, review progress regularly and address underperformance quickly.
  7. Clear, responsive leadership — Leaders set high aspirations and lead by example. They hold staff accountable for attainment and don't accept low performance.

By following these steps closely, you'll have a great chance of supporting the attainment of your disadvantaged pupils.

Get the Latest Sector News Straight to Your Inbox

Whether you're looking to improve your teaching and leadership practices or learn something you can take into your everyday work, we can help.

We know teachers rarely have time to sit down and research the latest industry news and best practices, so why not have it all sent directly to you?

Sign up to the IG Schools Hub today and receive our newsletter, latest sector news and exclusive content straight to your inbox. Click below to get started.

Sign Up