The County High School, Leftwich

Recognising the relentless focus on ensuring that every student fulfils his/her potential at the Academy 

Case Study by Matt Snelson

Tell us about your school

The County High School, Leftwich was awarded Secondary Regional Champions at the Pupil Premium Awards 2017,

The County High School, Leftwich has been a Converter (ie no-sponsor) Academy since September 2012 and was judged Outstanding in every area at the its most recent Ofsted inspection in March 2016. There are currently 989 students on roll, aged 11-16. The Academy is over-subscribed and has a reputation for strong academic performance and high standards of student behaviour. The intake is fully inclusive. Currently, there are 195 students, 19% of the Academy population, for whom the Pupil Premium provides support.

What did you do to create such notable success with the Pupil Premium?

The Core Purpose of the Academy is to:

-          facilitate the educational, personal and social development of its students and thereby maximise their achievement and thus life chances.

This theory is translated into practical reality via our unwavering focus on delivering consistently high-quality teaching across the curriculum offer. Teachers provide students with individualised, motivational targets, which are challenging but achievable in each subject. Subject Leaders and their teams track student achievement against these targets to identify students who are at risk of not achieving them. Personalised subject specific interventions are actioned promptly and designed to take account of each student’s individual circumstances. For instance, if extended study is an issue in the home environment then our ‘Study Zone’, supported by specialist Learning Support Assistants, funded via Pupil Premium monies, provide a supportive environment, which is why we refer to extended learning not homework. Pupil Premium money is also used to assist in the purchase of basic equipment, such as calculators, stationary and PE kit to remove real or perceived barriers to learning, appropriate, impactful interventions, primarily in-lesson, are also deployed to ensure that students at least meet their targets. For example, all subjects have access to a Subject Specialist Learning Support Assistant and additional timetabled teacher intervention is provided for core subjects.

Pupil Premium students are further supported via the Progress Support Group, consisting of a Senior Leadership Team member, Year Leader, SENDCo and Education Support Worker. The Progress Support Group use the tracking data to highlight students at risk of underperforming and then plan and implement the aforementioned impactful actions to reduce the risk of underperformance. For example, a student and their family may be enrolled in the Parent Engagement programme, where a Learning Support Assistant will mentor the student and work closely with the family to enable them to provide additional support for their son / daughter outside of school. Another example of the work of the Progress Support Group is where students exhibit more extreme complexities, for example persistently low attendance. The Education Support Worker is deployed to visit this small number of students and take the learning to their homes. The goal of this work is to eventually reintegrate the student into the mainstream school setting.

As well as the incessant focus on the quality of teaching and learning for students for whom the Pupil Premium provides support, via the planning and delivery of engaging lessons, the Academy offers subsidised enrichment activities, including outward bound residentials and trips abroad to France and Spain, for example. The Academy believes that these experiences enrich the lives of students and that all students should have the opportunity to experience them, thereby ensuring in a proudly inclusive environment that all students ‘enjoy’, attend and achieve. Through varied enrichment activities and a focus on personalised academic achievement, students are prepared for appropriate post-16 pathways and ultimately fulfil our mission of ‘learning for employability.’

The Cashless Catering system in the canteen removes any perceived stigma in taking up the offer of a free breakfast, provided for every Pupil Premium student, which ensures that students start the day in a friendly environment and arrive in lessons ready to learn.

Through every aspect of Academy life, the Senior Leadership Team, Subject Areas and Support Staff ask themselves:

-          Will this initiative, activity, event, for example, enrich the lives of our students?

-          Will it improve their life chances?

These questions are asked in conjunction with:

-          Will this work for Pupil Premium students and, if not, can Pupil Premium funding be used to make it work for them?

Decisions are run through the Pupil Premium filter. By inculcating this culture across all year groups, Pupil Premium students are not at all stigmatised and thus ‘buy in’ more readily. 

Impact

The impact of the strategy is evidenced by the Academy’s continued academic success, which would not be possible without the strong underpinning principle that students: enjoy their time at the Academy; attend and achieve outstanding results; move on to appropriate post-16 pathways and ultimately lead fulfilling lives. In terms of end of Key Stage 4 results, students for whom the Pupil Premium provides support progressed at an above average rate when compared to all students nationally using the Progress 8 calculation in 2016 and in line with all students nationally for 2017, using the Progress 8 calculation. Students for whom the Pupil Premium provides support consistently perform considerably higher than Pupil Premium students nationally, using the Progress 8 calculation.

What next for your Pupil Premium Strategy?

The 2017 Year 11 results have been forensically analysed by Subject Leaders and their teams. Findings from this analysis form part of their Subject Improvement Plans, which feed Performance Management. Every teacher has a Pupil Premium progress target written into their Performance Management. With the majority of subjects delivering the reformed 9-1 GCSEs to Year 11 for the first time this year, cognisance has been paid to learning the lessons from the new English and Maths 9-1 GCSEs, which were assessed for the first time in 2017. Ensuring all students are successful with the reformed 9-1 GCSEs, therefore including Pupil Premium students, is a priority for all subject areas. The ‘tougher’ GCSEs provide new challenges for all students and particularly those Pupil Premium students where motivation can occasionally prove problematic. Maintaining motivation and resolving the real or perceived barriers to learning is now even more important. As ever, Pupil Premium students will continue to be seen as individuals and the Academy will continue to deploy a number of strategies tailored to meet their individual needs in order to continue to increase their engagement.

How are you sharing your good practice?

The Academy engages in the Cheshire West and Chester Pupil Premium Leaders group and regularly shares good practice through it.  The Academy is also delivering a presentation to the Cheshire West and Chester Association of Headteachers, followed be a question and answer session, in November.

Winning the Award

The achievement of our Pupil Premium students is a real team effort. It is achieved by the day-in-day-out high quality teaching and learning in the classroom, backed-up by high quality and dedicated support staff. Winning the award has reinvigorated this team, reflecting that truism ‘success breeds success’, by providing further validation that our approach to supporting Pupil Premium students is making an impact.

Get in touch

Please contact Mr Matthew Snelson, Vice Principal: msnelson@leftwichhigh.com