It is that time of year when headteachers have to prioritise resources and make important decisions about what their school can or cannot afford. During this time of significant change within education, the pressure on school business managers, governors and senior leadership to make effective judgements is more intense than ever.
The Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Fund recently published a Pupil Premium Toolkit to offer schools a summary of the best educational research in order to make informed financial decisions and maximise the benefit of school spending. The toolkit was developed by a team of academics at the University of Durham and led by Professor Steve Higgins.
The impact and cost effectiveness of a number of themes are assessed with some useful and interesting findings.
One of the best returns on investment is providing teaching staff with CPD opportunities focussing on the use of effective feedback. One study even estimates that the impact of rapid feedback on learning is 124 times more cost effective than reducing class sizes. At a time when budgets are being increasingly stretched and schools are being bombarded with offers from a multitude of professional services, a relatively inexpensive training course which delivers sustainable results and yields a high to very high effect on learning is certainly worthy of consideration.
The deployment of teaching assistants proves to be less favourable using the toolkit with very small or no effects on attainment at a disproportionately high cost. This evidence supports the recent interest in Project HE:RO’s Health Mentors who fulfil this role for critical periods of the day but also undertake different functions including lunchtime supervision, pupil mentoring, after school provision and PPA cover.
After school programmes and sports participation are also featured within the toolkit, performing slightly better than teaching assistants but still only producing low to moderate impact for moderate costs.
It is the blended role of a Health Mentor that amplifies their effectiveness in each of the individual work strands. Deploying Health Mentors is also a much more cost effective solution than several individual appointments and the added financial flexibility of not being on the school’s payroll makes them even more desirable.
If you are looking for a greater impact on learning than your existing teaching assistants, PPA providers, after school play leaders and lunchtime supervisors are having, contact us for a free consultation about a more affordable and cost effective solution.
A copy of the Pupil Premium Toolkit can be found here with supporting information at www.educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/toolkit/.