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The Marlborough Science Academy

Disadvantaged Students

At Marlborough our aspirations for students from disadvantaged backgrounds are no different to those for other students. We set the same targets with challenge to encourage and motivate high aspirations and we monitor carefully to ensure wellbeing and progress.

Marlborough is a truly comprehensive school, but whilst situated in the AL1 district of St Albans, an affluent area in every definition of the word, we are also on the edge of a super output area, which is reflected in high levels of deprivation, poverty and a propensity for disengagement from parents and students in the educational system.

Whilst there is a difference between the attainment and attendance of disadvantaged students and others at Marlborough, we can demonstrate a clear trajectory of closing the gap. There is a significant gap in prior attainment when disadvantaged students join us from KS2 and we do all that we can in their time with us to close the gap.

The key barriers to learning experienced by disadvantaged students is their attendance in school, prior attainment on arrival to secondary school and in many cases weak literacy skills and a lack of parental support/engagement.  Often self-esteem and belief in their own abilities are also barriers that need to be overcome.


As figures show we slowly diminished the gap in 2015-16 but we have made rapid progress in increasing the attendance of disadvantaged students in 2016-17.  Attendance for this group has risen from 90% in 2015-16 to 93% in 2016-17.  We attribute our success in this area to the appointment of an Attendance Officer with a job description more akin to that of a tradition EWO, who has made a positive impact on a number of deep seated attendance issues that have been evident since primary school.

Improvements as a result of:

  • Financial support for travel
  • Positive engagement with parents
  • Adjustments made to curriculum
  • Individual support packages for students based in need

In relation to attendance, there are other interventions in place to encourage students who are disadvantaged to want to be in school:

  • Paying for transport when this has been a barrier
  • Home visits and bringing students in to school
  • Purchasing uniform coats and shoes so that students come in to school in bad weather and are not embarrassed about their presentation.
  • Interviewing students to determine the main barriers and solving issues as quickly as we can.  Sometimes this can be as simple as not having a PE kit
  • Self-esteem projects
  • The introduction of a ‘rapid progress’ pathway aimed specifically at students coming in from primary school with low prior attainment and attendance usually below 90%.  The pathway is double staffed and disadvantaged student funding used to finance.
Attainment - year 11 2017
Measure Marlborough Disadvantaged Students Marlborough non-Disadvantaged Students National non-Disadvantaged Students (2016)

Achieving 9-4 in English and Mathematics (Basics)




Achieving 9-4 in English and Mathematics (Basics)




Attainment 8




Progress 8


We are pleased to have narrowed the gap in attainment between DS and Non DS students from previous years but recognise that there is still work to do to close the gap completely.

Being aspirational for our students and keen to share good practice and take advice, we commissioned a Pupil Premium review in November ’15 - (See Appendix 1)

Provision is targeted at different Key Stages in the following ways:

  • Rapid progress curriculum for learners in Yr 7 and Yr 8
  • Enhanced learning programme to support students’ transition from Rapid Progress to Mainstream
  • Early careers/connexions interviews to determine aspirations and offer support
  • Accelerated reading programme
  • Targeted one-to-one with graduate English and Maths teaching Assistants
  • Use of Doddle to support learning in numeracy
  • There are a variety of different pathways to support learning and progress
  • Payment into alternative provision for a number of students
  • One-to-one and small group support in Maths and English
  • Targeted alternative support and interventions
  • Team building initiative
  • Reward incentives
  • Staffing in English
  • Full time inclusion manager to support well-being and mental health
  • Financial support for resources and attendance to all relevant enrichment activities
  • Provision of all revision guides and other learning resources
  • Regular mentoring of students (now fortnightly)
  • Mentors to meet parents and mentees
  • Transport support where needed
  • Breakfast and uniform support
  • Discounts or full payment made for trips related to the curriculum and enrichment activities to inspire confidence and motivation
  • Individual support as need arises eg: provision of laptops
  • One-to-one help in supporting university applications
  • Financial support with transport/clothing/travel to visit universities etc.
  • Financial support with trips/resources
  • One-to-one support (mental health) where needed

The Disadvantaged Students funding for 2017 - 2018 is £191,675.  We are planning to use the funding to provide the following:

Intervention Impact Measure

Attendance Improvement Officer

Increase in attendance of disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students and a further drop in the percentage of disadvantaged students as PAs

Intervention and Inclusion Officer

Detailed and rapid interventions with students with specific social needs to allow them access their learning more effectively. Case studies of impact with students

One-to-One and small group English and Maths Tutoring

Progress of students between fixed assessment points and tracking of skills mastered whilst working with tutors

Additional English Teacher

Progress of disadvantaged students at KS3 and KS4

Family Outreach Work for EAL students

Case studies of work with particular students and families

Assistant Teachers

Progress of disadvantaged students targeted by specific assistant teachers and monitored by Deputy Headteacher

Accelerated Reader Scheme and Secondary Reader Programme

Progress in terms of reading ages for students whilst following the scheme

Educational Visits

Testimonials from students attending the trips in terms of their understanding of a subject and enrichment

Support for Extra Curricular Activities and Music Tuition

Testimonials from students partaking extra-curricular activities


Testimonials from DS students taking part in ACES days

Art Therapy

Case studies of impact with students

Doddle subscription

Gap closing between the performance of students DS and non-DS in Science

Transport costs for targeted DS students

Attendance for targeted DS students meeting school targets

Revision and other learning materials for DS students

Gap in attainment closing between DS and non-DS students

Breakfast club

Targeted DS in students attendance meeting school targets

Support for access IT resources

All DS students able to access IT resources outside of school so as to be able to learn effectively

2016-17 Funding and Impact

The Disadvantaged Students funding for 2016 - 2017 was £195,193

Intervention Spend Impact

Attendance Improvement Officer and DS Admin Support


Increased individual interventions with students whose attendance is below 85% or at risk of dropping, focusing particularly on DS.  Detailed interventions have led to an overall increase in the attendance of students, rising from 94% in 2015-16 to 95% in 2016-1.  Disadvantaged attendance has risen from 90% in 2015-16 to 93% in 2016-17. As of March 2016 the percentage of disadvantaged persistent absentees has dropped from 31% in 2015-16 to 23%

Intervention and Inclusion Officer


Detailed and rapid interventions with students with specific social needs.  There are case studies to show specific impact.  Our Intervention and Inclusion officer has also lead on whole school interventions including: Anti-bullying with year 7, Resilience with year 8, Child Exploitation and Personal Safety with year 9 and Stress and Resilience with year 11

One-to-One and small group Maths Tutor


Small group and 1:1 work with students in Maths worked with students arriving with low literacy or needing additional support with exam technique.  Key stage 4 disadvantaged students involved intervention showed significant improvement from PPE exam to final exam results. Key stage 3 disadvantaged students working in small group sessions showed an individual increases in skills in particular area as targeted by staff

Additional English Teacher


Allowed for smaller group sizes and therefore more contact with disadvantaged students.  Impact can be seen through disadvantaged students performing in line with national expectations at all ability levels

2 x Assistant Teachers


The work of the Assistant Teachers was focused on the supporting the disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students in the Rapid Progress and Enhanced Learning group.  They’re work contributes to the progress made by the PP students particularly at KS3

Accelerated Reader Scheme


Programme led by LRC manager to raise reading skills of students arriving with weak literacy allowing them to engage more effectively with the curriculum.  Students on the programme show as significant improvement in reading ages

Educational Visits


Full access to the curriculum for study visits, field trips and enrichment activities.  Ensure that disadvantaged students have full access to the same opportunities as non-pp students



National support programme to support whole school and subject specific intervention to raise attainment for disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students at all levels

Learning resources and Revision materials


Purchase of revision and other learning support materials for students in year 11 as part of their exam preparation allowing progress of disadvantaged students overall to be in line with national expectation

Breakfast club and other meals


Breakfast for disadvantaged students to encourage them to come into school and ensure they have a meal in the morning so they are nationally prepared to learn

Art Therapy


Weekly programme for individuals with specific emotional need (see case studies for specific intervention)

Laptops and IT Support


The purchase IT equipment to support disadvantaged students learning and allow access to ICT facilities out of school

Doddle subscription


Subscription to the Maths and Science sections of Doddle website to support learning of all students at KS3 and KS4

Carry forward


Carry forward of funds to allow for support additional Maths and English Graduate tutors ion 2017-18

The Disadvantaged Students strategy is reviewed annually in October.

Yr 7 catch up

In 2016 -2017 we received £13,176 to support students who arrive at school with a level 3 or below in Reading and/or Mathematics.  The funding was used to contribute towards the cost of our Rapid Progress curriculum and one-to-one/small group work support in Maths and English.

There is also a contribution going towards our accelerated reader programme.

Appendix 1
Pupil Premium Review for Marlborough School

4th November 2015

This review was carried out by Theo Nickson (LLE and Pupil Premium Reviewer) at the school’s request.  The school is concerned that the gap in attainment and progress between PP students and others had increased in the GCSE results this summer and the SLT of the school particularly wanted to know if they were using the right measures to measure the impact of PP initiatives and whether they were doing enough lower down the school to address disadvantage.  Prior to the visit, I scrutinised the most recent RAISEonline report, Progress 8 Data and summative reports from the school on their own self-evaluation of the progress of students. During the review, I met with the Link Governor for Pupil Premium, the Head, other members of the Senior Leadership Team, the Pupil Premium Co-ordinator and a group of PP students.  I was accompanied by the Pupil Premium Co-ordinator on two Learning Walks visiting Years 7 and 9 English groups and Year 10 Maths groups.  There was also time for a book scrutiny.  The school facilitated the visit very well by responding quickly to my requests for information and structuring the day to maximise contact with staff and students.


The percentage of PP students at Marlborough School (approx. 17.5%) is below the national average (28.5%) although the trend is changing and the percentages vary from year group to year group.  Of the PP students, one is a Child Looked After and the remaining are “Ever 6”.  In the current Year 7, 25% of students are PP; last year’s Year 11 had 24% PP which was the highest in the school’s history with some students qualifying very late and therefore receiving limited targeted intervention.  At Key Stage 3, a significant number of PP students are also identified with SEN.  In the last year, the school received approximately £187,000 in Pupil Premium funding. 

The school is presently implementing plans to strengthen the identification of barriers to learning for PP students and strategies to remove those barriers.  These include assertive mentoring of PP students by staff, the appointment from January 2016 of an “old-fashioned” EWO who will work alongside the Attendance Officer and focus on getting students into school, including visiting homes.  Funding is being spent on the EWO role, on providing 1:1 English tuition and on other staff in the core subjects of English and Maths. There is also a strong focus on teaching and learning and creating curriculum models to suit ability profiles, eg a curriculum pathway called Enrichment serves the needs of students at NC level 3 or P levels on entry.

PP information on the school’s website complies with government requirements although it could contain a more detailed breakdown of how funds are used; the dates on the tables are also slightly misleading in that it is not absolutely clear which academic year they refer to.

Learning walks

English – two Year 7 and two Year 9 classes were visited. Varied practice was seen; in one of the lower sets with 50% PP students, despite being a smaller group, the subject content was not interesting the students and there was unsettled behaviour.  There was a TA present but there was no evidence of this impacting positively on learning.  In a middle band group, PP students were making very good progress and regular, very constructive marking was definitely aiding this progress.  In one boys-only group with a high number of SEN students, PP students were interested in the subject content and there was a good learning relationship with the teacher; the students were lively and any unsettled behaviour was quickly dealt with which created a comfortable atmosphere focussing on learning.  In one of the top Year 9 sets, the two PP students were totally engaged, making very good progress and were highly articulate in a very positive learning environment. The accelerated reading up to Year 9 is showing an impact but may leave a gap from Year 10 onwards.

Maths – four Year 10 Maths lessons were visited; there were 18 PP students spread evenly across these groups which ranged in ability. The lowest ability group was small, enabling targeted teaching and in the main, students were focussed and motivated, on task, understanding the subject matter and with good presentation in their books.  Across these lessons, I saw one TA in the lowest ability group who was supporting individuals although some of these students were still demanding attention from the teacher. Across all four lessons, only one group was using textbooks; most were working on worksheets and when asked, in one group, PP students stated that they felt too much homework was MyMaths based which didn’t provide them with detailed feedback on where they were going wrong and how they could improve.  They felt they’d rather undertake exercises in their exercise books and then make corrections as needed so that they had this as a reference for revision.

Meetings with staff – staff have identified, through self-evaluation, poor attendance among PP students as being one of the main barriers to learning progress.  Poor attendance of PP students has increased over the last few years and normal procedures for addressing this do not appear to be working.  Staff are now examining every individual’s needs in more detail to the extent where some students are taxied into school but it is questionable how sustainable such interventions can be.  Home visits re taking place for PP students with complex needs, including CAMHS referral or on the CP register. The greatest concern is where parents are unsupportive.  Data for September and October of this year currently shows overall attendance at 95% with PP attendance at 89% so it remains an issue; more worrying is that of 11 identified Persistent Absentees, 8 are PP.  Extensive, intense intervention with these students is now taking place, including meetings with members of the SLT.  Rewards and sanctions are now recorded electronically on SIMS so the SLT becomes quickly aware if a sanction comes up. There is a weekly behaviour (including call-outs) and attendance report at SLT meetings highlighting PP students. Student attendance is now an appraisal objective for Middle Leaders for their faculties.

Staff have increased the tracking of progress of PP students from Year 7.  On alternate Thursdays, the Directors of Learning meet to discuss students and are tracking how the degree of parental engagement impacts on student progress.  The creation of four curriculum pathways at KS3, including an Engagement pathway for the weakest students is starting to impact positively on catch-up strategies. Using the progress matrices, staff have identified that 78% of PP underachievers were also Persistent Absentees, hence the planned EWO/AIO intervention. Some students have been invited into breakfast clubs and their attendance is improving.  Staff are now exploring a rewards-based attendance initiative which the students respond more positively to, eg Year 11 PP attendance last year was 85% when the initiative started; one and a half terms later, it was 85.4% - a minor increase but one in the right direction.

Staff explained how catch-up sessions have been established in English and Maths; there is also paired tuition at KS3 according to need and 1:1 sessions at KS4 for the greatest need.  All agreed that the drive to start much earlier to address poor performance was starting to show results.

The PP Link Governor explained that PP issues are discussed at full Governors’ meetings and at committee meetings, eg Curriculum Committee addresses the interventions in place for teaching and learning, Personnel Committee considers how teachers are being used to support PP learning and the subsequent impact of this and Finance Committee scrutinises how the funds are spent and the cost effectiveness of this.  The Link Governor also meets termly with the PP Co-ordinator in school.

Meeting with students - I met with PP students, 2 per year group from Years 7-11.  This was a delightful group of students who are a credit to the school.  They all participated in the discussion and the majority spoke positively about how the school is helping them achieve their aspirations.  When asked what was most important for them in their learning, they unanimously agreed it was the quality of teaching.  They all understood the need for English and Maths qualifications although they don’t necessarily enjoy their learning in those subjects.  They were aware of the accelerated reading and felt it helped them.  They said that the most enjoyed subjects, where they felt they worked hardest tended to be the more practical subjects where they could see the relevance to any future career plans.  The Year 11 students were clearly focussed on what they need to do to achieve their potential at GCSE and they feel well supported in this (one girl had recently benefitted from a Drama workshop).  The younger students also had a clear understanding of the value of education in achieving their future ambitions.  When asked how PP funding could further support their learning, they offered some very sensible suggestions including the provision of study materials, stationery and support for out-of-school activities.


  • Continue to work with parents/carers – ensure they know how PP students can be supported; encourage the use of funds as rewards for out-of-school activities which may consequently motivate students to succeed in school
  • Staff should make annotated marksheets/seating plans available for any observation to facilitate identification and observation of disadvantaged students
  • All data analysis should include a Pupil Premium breakdown eg sanctions, rewards, callouts
  • Examine PP data on RAISE highlighted in red – correlate with attendance
  • Review PP information on the website
  • Stronger classroom intervention for lower ability classes – review use of TAs
  • In Maths – there is an overload of worksheets which leaves students with little for reference – explore use of textbooks.  Particularly at GCSE, students need access to textbooks (or equivalent) at home to consolidate their learning and develop independent learning skills – the students I spoke to said it was a constraint sharing textbooks in class and not having them at home – use PP funds to support the purchase of this and similar resources
  • Target incoming Year 6 PP students for early intervention and continue to direct more academic intervention at KS3 to reduce need at KS4


There is an overall positive feel about the school; the students are very complimentary about their teachers and their learning.  Learning on both Learning Walks was mainly clam and purposeful.  There are very good measures in place (both academic and pastoral) for PP students although there could be more comparisons at all levels with non-PP students.  There is lots of thorough, accurate self-evaluation in place.  PP funding is used appropriately; it is targeted and enables impact to be measured.  The Governors’ knowledge of PP issues is strong.  The school is right to focus on classroom practice and increase its targeting of PP students from Year 7 or where possible, even earlier through primary school links.  Most importantly, the school has successful identified attendance as a critical barrier to progress and is putting resources into improving this.

There is no doubt that all the PP students I spoke to have high aspirations and they are being nurtured to succeed.  The school has sound plans in place to reduce the gap in attainment and progress between PP students and others and I wish the school, its staff and students, the success they deserve.

Ms Theo Nickson

18 November 2015