Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
Today we have published the second year evaluation report by Ipsos Mori and WISERD on the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG). The report examines how schools are choosing to spend the PDG, and teacher’s perceptions of the impact the grant is having.
The findings of the report are very positive. Teachers think that PDG is making a difference. They report seeing significant improvements for their eFSM learners, not just in literacy and numeracy, but also in behaviour, confidence and self esteem.
The report shows that schools are increasingly using sophisticated systems to tailor the right kind of PDG support to the right group of learners. The majority of schools are making well-thought through and eligible decisions on how to spend their grant. Recent evidence from Estyn and feedback from our Raising Attainment Advocate – Sir Alasdair MacDonald - also backs this up.
The way schools spend PDG is evolving, and we will continue to work with them to ensure that there is greater awareness of the benefits of properly targeted and focussed funding and intervention. Schools that initially invested money in data monitoring systems are now concentrating on the delivery of interventions, on training and employing staff skilled in these interventions. I am heartened that PDG is being used increase the skills of Teaching Assistants. Schools report that these Teaching Assistants have become highly skilled and valued members of staff.
It is encouraging that schools are increasingly using the PDG to reach out. Engaging with local programmes that complement PDG such as Families First and Communities First, and also engaging with parents so they can better support their children’s’ learning.
I believe that this report is further evidence of a changing culture in schools, where the individual needs of learners are placed at the heart of planning, and all of our pupils are given the support they need to achieve their full potential. There is of course still much to be done and that the report usefully directs us to the areas where we need continued focus.
The support provided through the PDG is just one of a number of interventions we have put in place, under our Rewriting the Future programme, to tackle the insidious impact that poverty has on educational outcomes. We are now seeing this activity feeding through into acceleration in the improvement in performance for eFSM learners.
This year’s GCSE results, which were published yesterday and this report, show that there has been a marked improvement in the attainment of eFSM learners since the grant was introduced in 2012. Analysis of our published figures on the Level 2 inclusive threshold show that for eFSM learners the rate of improvement has more than doubled since the introduction of PDG.
We are committed to ensuring that the hard work that has been put in place so far should continue. We will continue to explore imaginative and innovative ways in which we can support schools – and the wider community – to ensure that these learners are given the best possible chance of breaking the cycle of deprivation, under achievement and poverty