Case study by Clare Wingrave.
Tell us about your school
Oasis Academy Byron is an amazing school and I am proud to be Principal! For the school and its community, the last two years have been incredible. In May 2016, we received an Ofsted grading of Outstanding in every category, our Key Stage 2 results place us top in the Croydon Performance Tables and we were in the top 3% of the country for progress. In 2017, we were delighted to be London and SE Regional Pupil Premium champions and again our Key Stage 2 results demonstrated outstanding attainment and progress. However, academic outcomes are only one area that makes Byron so special and I will explain why.
Byron is a one-form entry primary school situated in leafy Old Coulsdon in South Croydon. Our context makes us different from neighbouring primary schools, as around 50% of our children are pupil premium. Just over half of our children come from ethnic minorities and over 25% speak a first language other than English at home. Mobility at Byron has been high and the school is usually in the top quintile for stability although this is beginning to change as Byron becomes more popular.
In 2012 we joined Oasis Community Learning as a converter academy as we had been working with our local secondary Oasis academy and felt that the Oasis vision and ethos was very linked to what we were striving for at Byron. Our recent success comes from the fact that everyone one associated with the academy is determined that background must not play any part in determining pupils’ outcomes and we have ‘expertly created a culture in which all staff are united in the drive for excellence’ (Ofsted 2016).
What did you do to create such notable success with the pupil premium?
The barriers of attendance and lifestyle were addressed using a whole school approach of careful weekly tracking, incentives and adult support. Attendance is monitored daily with first day calling and home visits. Children receive certificates, class rewards (the minion!), badges and there is a termly ‘In it to win it’ scheme! A family support worker and an Education Welfare Officer work with families carrying out targeted support often with outside agencies, establishing links with families where attendance is a barrier to learning build and building an understanding of why children are not attending. A weekly after school group for targeted families enables parents to chat, enjoy a snack and to see school as a welcoming place. The charity ‘Magic Breakfast’ now provides the food in Breakfast Club free to all children and the childcare element is funded for disadvantaged children to encourage attendance. Raiseonline data 2016 showed that whole school attendance was 96.4% and persistent absence 7.2% (compared with 96.1% and 8.8% nationally). Again, in 2017 attendance was just under 96% and persistent absence under the national figure.
Parental engagement was improved through gaining the Leading Parent Partnership Award as this encouraged parents to come into school for lunches, workshops, Family Man Days, assemblies and volunteers. Parents began to see schools as a friendlier environment and this allayed their worries about coming into school. When we have encouraged families to be involved they have been more open to letting their children do new things such as attend clubs, visits and workshops. A recent Maths workshop on supporting children at home was well attended with positive feedback and packs provided for disadvantaged families were well received.
In order to look at attitudes to learning and aspiration - the whole school curriculum that the children receive was reviewed - the national curriculum forms only part of this! (‘Thinking Allowed on Schooling’ – Mick Waters). This was so that we could provide an exciting, creative meaningful experience based curriculum that meets the needs of our children at Byron. We thought about the skills, attributes, values and knowledge that we would like our children to develop and because our curriculum is for our children, we acknowledged that it is likely to be different from other schools. The foundations for this journey were looking at attitudes to learning through a growth mindset and a ‘I can’t do this – YET’ approach. In conjunction with staff CPD a growth mindset approach was developed which involved the introduction of eight learning muscles across the school. This metacognitive approach (Sutton Trust Toolkit) enabled children to understand the value and purpose of having a go and have strategies and resilience to adapt and persevere when things go wrong. Pupil engagement was increased by ensuring that disadvantaged children have responsibilities so that they play a prominent role in school life.
The profile of disadvantaged children throughout the school is high to ensure that staff know which of their pupils are eligible for pupil premium and acknowledge that they are accountable and ensuring that they made good progress. The achievement of identified disadvantaged children is always a performance management target. Quality first teaching, high quality feedback (Sutton Trust Toolkit) and identifying gaps are the most effective strategies, so pupil premium money is spent predominantly on additional staff, and sustaining small classes so that children’s’ individual needs can be met through a closely tailored approach involving a range of fluid strategies, which respond to needs and cohorts. Provision mapping across the school supports this approach and impact is analysed and evaluated regularly so that any underperformance is quickly identified and addressed.
Rigorous systematic tracking of disadvantaged children ensures that these children remain high profile and cannot slip through the net. Before entry in Reception, transition involves knowing children’s prior experiences in pre-school and there are links with the Children’s Centre and nurseries regarding children in receipt of 2 year old funding.
The impact of this work has been that outcomes for disadvantaged children at the end of Key Stage 2 are now above national figures and children achieve well. ‘Over the last three years, the gap between the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and others nationally has been closed. In 2015, the disadvantaged pupils’ attainment was above that of others nationally’ (Ofsted 2016). This was also true for 2016 and 2017.
Academic achievement is one part of the work carried out with our disadvantaged children as in order for these children to succeed it is vital that the whole child is considered.
Our enriched curriculum provides many opportunities for children to learn beyond the school and this helps to close the experience gap between our children and leads to creative and innovative approach, which otherwise our disadvantaged children may not have been able to access. Evidence indicates that ‘the quality of the curriculum makes a significant contribution to children’s engagement and learning and thus to the outcomes they achieve’ (NCSL Freedom to Lead 2014).
In order to provide this broad experience based curriculum we work with a range of different organisations so that all children have the opportunity to engage in a variety of activities.
Local partnership working is very strong as the school is part of a Cluster and involved in a local Teaching School. We have a Phonics Specialist Leader in Education as our Year 1 teacher and she provides training and support for colleagues locally and has advised on developing phonics provision for disadvantaged children. We participate in the Cluster Pupil Premium group, which involves sharing strategies and good practice to use with disadvantaged children. The Cluster also runs joint music, sport and G&T activities giving all children an opportunity to participate. Joint training is facilitated when need through the Cluster, for example, Elklan accredited Speech and Language training for Teaching Assistants enabling TAs to support children with speech and language in school.
Other local partners for provision are Crystal Palace Football club who provide weekly coaches for clubs and coaching and Croydon Music who facilitate the SoundStart Programme of whole class instrumental tuition that we have used for the last 6 years. This means that disadvantaged children have access to quality sport and music tuition.
For the last 3 years we have worked in partnership with HSBC and we have our own genuine school bank. HSBC staff interview and recruit applicants to the main bank roles, and facilitate the fortnightly opening of the bank. This has really help to raise pupil aspiration for example in 2015 the School HSBC Bank Manager made 2 levels of progress (Level 1 to 3) in reading, writing and maths.
Other curriculum partners are Beanstalk who provide volunteer readers who we use to support disadvantaged children who do not regularly read at home, Maths Mastery, PiXL, Enabling Enterprise, the International Primary Curriculum and Rights Respecting Schools. These partners form part of the curriculum offer for our children.
Pupil Premium funding is also used to support residential trips and in Year 6 all children are offered a very heavily subsidised place and no children are left behind due to financial reasons.
Byron now has an evolving enriched creative curriculum based around the International Primary Curriculum and we are devising a curriculum passport of experiences for every Byron child. Staff take every opportunity to provide children with interesting activities to narrow the experience gap between our children. Our children are regularly on the move and for the vast majority of our visits we use public transport, which means that the children become confident bus, train and tube users. Experiences last year ranged from residentials, theatre trips, opera trip, Kidzania, We Day, art galleries, museums, cinema, Pizza Express, Toby Carvery, farm to Tescos, Harry Potter and training with the LA RAMs! Visitors to the school included road safety, theatre groups, and chickens!
Impact wise, children report that they feel valued, listened to and safe in school and they know who to go to with a problem. They talk positively about their attitudes to learning and the visits that they experience. The social and emotional impact of the nurture group, mentoring and other interventions for disadvantaged children is evidenced through increased engagement in learning for individuals and the ability to manage their behaviour effectively during the school day.
A very important part of what we have achieved has been in the staff and their willingness and capacity to deliver the curriculum. They are very skilled and committed to doing the best for our children. This often involves taking on new ideas, being innovative and thinking out of the box. Our staff are also willing to take children on buses, trams, trains, underground and therefore the children have had access to a huge range of fascinating experiences.
What next for your pupil premium strategy?
In 2017-18 as well as maintaining all that is in place we are involved with a Philosophy for Children (P4C) project across the school and also working towards achieving the ArtsMark in recognition of the experiences that our children gain trough their arts work. Later in the year, we hope to be involved in the Shakespeare Schools Festival.
Our academic and wider success stems from the quality of our curriculum along with fantastic staff, children and families. ’Leaders are driven by a strong sense of moral purpose. They are determined that social disadvantage should not play any part in determining pupils’ outcomes. They have expertly created a culture in which all members of staff are united in the drive for excellence.’ (Ofsted 2016).
This quote from our Ofsted report in May 2016 really encapsulates all that we endeavour to do at Byron. I have not been able to detail everything that the school does to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children and this is just a flavour of the work that we do.
Sharing good practice
As mentioned previously we are part of a local Cluster of schools and the Pupil Premium Group within this cluster. We have also spoken to other schools within Croydon about the work that we do with disadvantaged children
We have good national and regional partnership working with other Oasis Academies and this provides valuable opportunities to share ideas. Oasis Academies all have a high percentage of disadvantaged children and the group figure is over 50%. Locally there are Regional Improvement Networks (RINs) and staff have been keen to share new ideas as part of the RIN. There is a RIN for Pupil Premium and staff have attended this to share good practice with other academies. Byron is also an Oasis Beacon Academy for Pupil Premium. As a Principal I attend a National Forum twice a year and have presented at the Forum on Achieving Outstanding Results for Pupil Premium Children. Staff also support other Oasis Academies where required.
Get in touch
Please do contact our school office if you would like to find out more about the work that we do at Byron.