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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 this 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 and 2017-18.  Attendance for this group has risen from 89% in 2015-16 to 92% in 2017-178.  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
  • 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 2018
Measure Marlborough Disadvantaged Students Marlborough non-Disadvantaged Students

Achieving 9-4 in English and Mathematics (Basics 9-4)



Achieving 9-5 in English and Mathematics (Basics 9-5)



Attainment 8*



Progress 8*



English P8*



Maths P8*



EBAcc P8*



Open P8*



*All Progress 8 data is provisional


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.  We are also really pleased that in 2018 that all elements of the Progress 8 measure were not significantly different from the national average.

Being aspirational for our students and keen to share good practice and take advice, we commissioned a Pupil Premium review in Aril 2018 by Herts for Learning - (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
  • One-to-one and small group support in Maths and English
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 2018 - 2019 is £192,637.  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

Additional English Teacher

Progress of disadvantaged students at KS3 and KS4

Mental Health Nurse

Reduction in the number of students affected by mental health issues and staff in school better equipped to support students with mental health needs

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

2017-18 Funding and Impact

The Disadvantaged Students funding for 2017 - 2018 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 89% in 2015-16 to 93% in 2016-17 and 92% 2017-18.  In the same period the percentage of disadvantaged persistent absentees dropped from 31% in 2015-16 to 23% and held at 23% in 2017-18

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 and English 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 (5 year subscription)


Programme led by LRC staff 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

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.

The Disadvantaged Students strategy is reviewed annually in October.

Yr 7 catch up

In 2018 -2019 we received £13,074 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

27 April 2018

Main findings:

  • The school is in receipt of £195,193 to support 216 disadvantaged pupils.  A significant percentage of these pupils also have SEND (25% across the school.  The largest concentration of these needs are in Year 10 (36%).  This high percentage of needs makes the challenge of closing the gaps significantly challenging for the school.
  • The location of the school at the edge of a “super output area,” translates into high levels of deprivation and disengagement by parents and students to the educational system.

Barriers to learning are broadly grouped as

  • attendance 
  • prior attainment on arrival to secondary school
  • weak literacy skills 
  • lack of parental support / engagement. 
  • self-esteem and belief in their own abilities


  • The school is aware of the need to have effective actions around accelerating progress and raising attainment for its disadvantaged students that address the challenges presented by the current dataset. 


  • The staff at Marlborough are ambitious for all of their students including those who are disadvantaged.  Targets with challenge are set to encourage and motivate high aspirations and the school monitors pupils carefully to ensure wellbeing and progress.  There is a strong commitment to nurturing individual pupils to succeed.


  • Actions to address specific barriers have been thoughtfully considered and there is clear evidence of evaluation of the impact.  This is strongly evidenced in the thorough, informative report provided to the governing body which outlines with clarity and quantitative data, where appropriate, the impact of various actions the school has taken to close the gap.  These strategies are bespoke to the students’ needs. These evaluations are summative. It would be a good idea to ensure evidence of ongoing evaluation and adaptation where appropriate; the principle being, it does not make financial sense to continue with an intervention or strategy that is not having the desired impact in improving achievement.
  • The school commissioned a pupil premium review in November 2015 and following through the relevant key actions for recommendation is helping the school to close the gap.  Of particular relevance is the school’s work to target incoming Year 6 disadvantaged students for early intervention and continue to direct more academic intervention at KS3 to reduce need at KS4. Another important area of focus has been more effective classroom intervention for lower ability classes by reviewing the use of Teaching Assistants. Taking account of the EEF guidance about the best use of teaching assistants to support and accelerate learning, the school have been proactive about having a complete overhaul of the deployment of such staff to support student learning across the school.  This action came about partially as a budgetary decision, but mainly as an action from its own school self-evaluation about wanting to improve the effectiveness of provision for its disadvantaged and vulnerable learners.
  • There is a difference between the attainment and attendance of disadvantaged students and others. The school can demonstrate a clear trajectory of closing the gap.  For example attendance for disadvantaged students has risen from 90% in 2015-16 to 93% in 2016-17. This is a positive impact of the strategies that the school has put in place to improve attendance.  An Attendance Improvement Officer, appointed by the school, has made a positive impact on a number of significant enduring attendance issues.  These improvements have been facilitated by providing financial support for travel, positive engagement with parents, adjustments made to the curriculum and individual support packages for students based on need.  Disadvantaged students are encouraged to want to be in school through a variety of strategies such as paying for transport, 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 possible as well as various self-esteem projects.  In addition 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% has had a positive impact in removing barriers to learning. 
  • The Assistant Headteacher provides a detailed breakdown of the performance of disadvantaged students to governing body.  This is an extremely useful document, supported by key data and relevant interpretations of this.  Disadvantaged students have a larger proportion of SEND than non-disadvantaged pupils (2017 25% overall compared to 10%)  CATs breakdown for each group also shows disadvantaged pupils have weaker prior attainment than their non-disadvantaged peers.  The gap varies between 5 and 11 points and shows a significant weakness for the group.  The outcomes and impact of interventions show that The Basics 9-4 gap in attainment between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged students closed significantly in 2017 with an 18% gap compared with 34% in 2016
  • The school has planned bespoke provision across the school which is carefully considered according to the key stage and the needs of the students.  For example in KS3 there is a Rapid Progress curriculum for disadvantaged learners in Year 7 and Year 8, followed by an enhanced learning programme to support students’ transition from Rapid Progress to Mainstream.  There is early careers/connexions interviews to determine aspirations and offer support.  The accelerated reading programme, targeted one-to-one with graduate English and Maths Teaching Assistants, and the use of Doddle to support learning in numeracy are all able to show demonstrable impact as outlined in the annual evaluation. 
  • In KS4 there are a variety of different pathways to support the learning and progress of the disadvantaged students.  This includes payment into alternative provision for a number of students and one-to-one and small group support in Maths and English.  In addition there is a full time inclusion manager to support well-being and mental health.  All revision guides and other learning resources are provided.  There is regular mentoring of students fortnightly and mentors meet parents and mentees.  The support continues into post 16 education ensuring one-to-one help in supporting university applications and mental health where appropriate
  • The school has a summative document outlining the interventions it has put in place to support its Year 11 learners.  This is a useful tracking document outlining the concerns staff have regarding individual disadvantaged learners across the curriculum and what action the staff have taken to address those issues in order to raise attainment and accelerate progress.  To ensure that this impacts lower down the school this is an action that should be completed with all year groups because then it will alleviate the pressure on the Year 11 staff and pupils, and they will therefore be able to concentrate on accelerating progress and raising attainment instead of still trying to remove the barriers to achievement in this critical key accountability year.  The key issue in this document needs to be challenge.  What are teacher’s changing in their approach and pedagogy to reach the disengaged and underperforming pupils?  There has to be a “can do” approach with all members of staff and “zero tolerance” of excuses for underachievement. With the students who are underperforming and unwilling to engage with the learning process what is the quality of teaching and learning in those specific lessons looking like?  How effective is differentiation and challenge?  Is the task well matched to the pupils needs?  What does behaviour for learning look like in lessons where there is “lack of effort in lessons”? The school needs to continue with rigour in challenge, putting the responsibility on all staff, working out what the next steps are in removing the barriers that the student is presenting in learning.
  • This is a school that understands the importance of effective transition activities for pupils and staff to ensure the dip on transfer is minimised.  Staff from the different faculties go into the primary feeder schools to learn about pitch and expectations and this is communicated in a helpful, demonstrable way to all staff in the secondary school at a carousel workshop.  In this way no time is wasted at Key Stage 3.  There is an immediate focus on what the students know on entry and this leads to a focus on the importance of accelerating progress.
  • The school understands the importance of ensuring that social, emotional and mental health of the vulnerable pupils needs to be effectively supported and the school uses its own resources for this purpose, very appropriately.  In addition it works in partnership with other local secondary schools to share resources, for example to give child and adult mental health a higher priority.
  • The pupil voice activities which take place on a weekly basis are extremely important.  “Learning Counts” conversations provide solid evidence that the school is working in a focussed way to engage the students in conversations about the direction of their learning.  Do the staff act, wherever appropriate, on the important information provided by the students about learning preferences and how staff can address their individual needs?  How is this information coordinated and communicated to other staff working with the disadvantaged students?
  • The school has used a primary model of curriculum delivery for some of its most vulnerable learners in early Key Stage 3.  There has been consistency with the allocation of teaching staff to this group which is helping the students in the “Rapid Progress” group to develop their skills, knowledge and understanding.  Self-confidence is improving with the vulnerable pupils and they are showing more focus to learning because the curriculum is being made more accessible to them.  This is being carefully monitored for impact on outcomes.  There is current secondary expertise in English Mathematics and Science in teaching disadvantaged students
  • A strategy used by the school which is starting to demonstrate impact is the use of Graduate Tutors.  When a misconception or gap is identified (eg negative numbers in Mathematics) the role of the tutor is to address this misconception urgently.  The surgery style approach is bespoke to the students’ needs and will do more to accelerate progress.
  • A resource pack for further reflection and consideration was provided and briefly discussed.  This included:
  • Effective ways to support disadvantaged pupils’ achievement was discussed based upon the NFER research.  The school is aware of this and there is good evidence that these key elements are being addressed within their school improvement planning.  This includes: whole school attainment for all, addressing behaviour and attendance, high quality teaching for all, meeting individual learning needs, being data driven and responding to evidence and clear responsible leadership.
  • The current criteria for judging the effectiveness of PPG expenditure was explained.  The biggest challenge is to ensure that “from their various starting points, the disadvantaged students are making progress across the curriculum which exceeds that which might be expected because leaders’ expectations for them are very high.”  The importance of mapping and evaluating supportive provision was discussed.  Some possible examples were provided for the school to consider adapting to its own local situation. Discussion about ensuring that any form of intervention, to be value for money, has to have the desired impact on raising attainment and accelerating progress and if it does not it should be reviewed, refined or changed.  Matching need to strategy is of critical importance and this comes from a detailed understanding of each student’s individual barriers to learning. 
  • The importance of preparing brief case studies to demonstrate the progress of disadvantaged students was discussed.  The current best practice guidance was explained which takes the form of a speaking/writing frame.  This needs to be systematic and cumulative so that there is clear demonstration of progress from starting points.
  • A variety of key questions which may be used during a pupil premium review were shared.  This covered headship / leadership, pupil interviews, subject lead questions and the role of the SENCo / INCo in diminishing the difference.  The questions are designed to enable reflection which will then lead to improvement and refinement of systems for vulnerable learners and others.
  • Governor questions relating to diminishing the difference were provided as a resource.  This could support governors in knowing the right questions to ask when evaluating provision for disadvantaged students. 
  • The process for knowing, narrowing, minding the gaps and celebrating the closure of gaps in learning was explained.  A powerpoint and evaluation tools for each stage of the process was provided which the school could use as a leadership focus to help them further identify what adaptations and improvements to their provision could be made.
  • Key cross phase reading around disadvantage was provided.
  • Research findings from what is working well in other schools, what the barriers are for schools and what the barriers are for pupils were discussed.



Action agreed:

  1. Identify with precision and accuracy the specific barriers for learning for all disadvantaged students.  This needs to be carefully evaluated and a wider strategy group should be involved in this task, drawing up subsequent actions for impact.  This will enable the mapping and the deployment of expertise to be more personalised.  The greater the clarity of the barrier to learning, the easier it is to identify with precision and accuracy the most appropriate strategy to use to address the need. Approaching this task with each year group, along with key professionals who have the resources, skill and precision to address these needs will also ensure clarity in communication, expectations and outcomes.  Consider especially carefully those students with multiple complex needs.  Prioritise support around what will have the most impact on outcomes and improving life chances.
  2. Ensure that the impact of strategies used are reviewed and evaluated with regular frequency.  Who holds the accountability for this? What are the next steps if a strategy is not having the desired impact?  The summative document is high quality containing informative detail.  There needs to be check points throughout the year to assess effectiveness and impact and the opportunity to revise and reshape provision and intervention if strategies are not working.
  3. Review the notion of expected progress for disadvantaged pupils.  The expectation of 2 sub grades each year at KS3 - Is this ambitious enough for students who have fallen behind?  Will this enable them to make accelerated progress?  Do all staff understand what accelerated progress should look like?  How are they held to account for this?
  4. Further develop the role of governance by ensuring that the key governor with responsibility for the oversight of disadvantaged pupils is appropriately trained and able to hold the leadership team to account for their actions to raise achievement and the impact of this on educational outcomes for the pupils.