Fullhurst Community College

Equity and excellence: the marginal gains approach to raising achievement.

Case study by Tom Hague.

Tell us about your school

Fullhurst Community College is a standalone secondary school in Leicester, serving a catchment which ranks in the top 1% for deprivation nationally. Of our 1035 students, 50% are disadvantaged and eligible for the pupil premium. As such, the outcomes of our disadvantaged students define the headline outcomes of the school. The staff at Fullhurst thrive off a strong moral purpose to achieve both equity and excellence for our students.

The priorities of our pupil premium strategy in the past few years has been to overcome both the internal and external barriers to learning that our students face, rapidly improving attitudes and outcomes in return. Our approach to employing strategies at Fullhurst is that we systematically employ 'simple strategies, with rigour'. Our approach to this is measured and evaluative. Therefore, we backwards plan from the intended outcomes of improving teaching and learning of disadvantaged students, overcome physical barriers such as attendance and behaviour, and increasing aspirations amongst our disadvantaged students.

What did you do to create such notable success with the pupil premium?

Teaching and learning is very much at the core of our strategy, with the intention being to ensure the disadvantaged students receive quality and timely feedback and also to put them to the forefront of teachers' minds. One such teaching strategy is the use of electronic seating plans (MINTclass) to allow data to inform teaching. This identifies disadvantaged students in lessons to inform the other teaching and learning strategies, and allows staff to pitch lessons so as they have an appropriate level of challenge. At Fullhurst, all Teaching Assistants are trained to Level 3 so as their skills can benefit disadvantaged students more so. Teaching Assistants are assigned to curriculum faculties and also the SEND department. 

There are many targeted interventions which are tracked and evaluated to maximise impact. Some of the more innovative interventions include Academic Mentoring, a Cooking with Parents initiative, providing a self-study space for Fullhurst Graduate Students, participating in the TeenSleep programme and pioneering free eye screening for students in conjunction with SpecSavers. For all of the strategies employed at Fullhurst, we have considered internal evidence, external evidence and published research. For the teaching and learning strategies, outlined above for example, we have considered the learning experience of past disadvantaged students who have been successful in overcoming their own barriers to learning previously. For example, one of our Curriculum Leaders recently completed a research project on accelerating the progress of more able disadvantaged students in particular, and found modelling to be particularly effective. This will therefore inform our pupil premium strategy going forward.  As such, the strategies devised are intended to share good practice, so as to provide a consistent 'diet' of teaching for all disadvantaged students across the curriculum, regardless of the teacher in front of them.

Quality assurance of our practices in school are calendared and rigorous. Leaders in school are consistently throughout the year evaluating our strategy across the different curriculum areas, ensuring that all staff, students and parents are taking the right approach in doing more of the things we know to be effective in getting the best results in our school.

Impact

The outcomes of disadvantaged students at Fullhurst are exceptional. Of 14 similar schools nationally in 2016, our disadvantaged students rank 1st for their Progress 8 outcomes, 2nd for their Attainment 8 outcomes, and 3rd for the Basics measure and the proportion achieving the English Baccalaureate. This is despite the students having significantly below national attainment on entry. 

The 2016 outcomes showed that the progress gap between disadvantaged students and other students almost halved, to just one third of a grade (Progress 8 gap of 0.33 in 2016 relative to 0.51 in 2015).  This coincides with a Progress 8 score for our disadvantaged students being 0.35.

This improvement in achievement is also replicated in Key Stage 3, and provisional results for 2017 show outcomes to be even higher still. Therefore, it can be seen that the strategy is sustainable and provides a platform to impact on the achievement of disadvantaged students at Fullhurst even more so in the coming years. 

What next for your pupil premium strategy?

Our pupil premium strategy evolves year to year, as we look to do more of what we found to work, and less of what didn’t. We have reworked what we are focusing on for 2017-18 in terms of barriers, so as we are only concentrating on four: improving attendance, behaviour, aspirations linked to parental engagement and reading. We are continually on the pulse with the latest developments in terms of research, both from external literature and internal findings. As the school expands in the coming years, we will need to ensure our strategy meets the needs of our student population so as we continue to strive for both equity and excellence for our disadvantaged students.

Sharing good practice

Since winning the Pupil Premium Award, we have been approached by organisations such as NACE (National Association for Able Children in Education) and the Social Mobility Commission, and have provided good practice case studies so as others can learn from our experiences. Locally, we have begun to share more with both secondary and primary schools in our local area regarding pupil premium strategy, and one of our Deputy Principals continue to act as a Pupil Premium Reviewer.

Winning the Award

Our recent success at the Pupil Premium Awards is recognition for the work we’re doing at every level in the school, involving all members of staff. We are proud of our achievement in winning the award, and look forward to our students enjoying our prizes this coming year.

Get in touch

Tom Hague, Deputy Principal - thague@fullhurst.leicester.sch.uk