Planned usage in 2019-2020
For the 2020/21 financial year, ATA will receive approximately £350,000 by way of pupil premium funding to support the education entitlement of those who are most disadvantaged. This year also encompasses an enhanced rate of provision per student of £955. The increase of 2.1% is the first increase in six years.
Aside from the provision of Free School Meals (FSM) - for which funding is provided separately within the main grant allocation - ATA also continues to support qualifying students with financial assistance when purchasing their ATA uniforms at the start of both Year 7 and Year 9 (£55 per relevant year); with a contribution towards the cost of one residential trip during their time at ATA (£95 contribution) and in subsidising 50% of the cost of music lessons, from which a handful of students may continue to benefit in 2020/21, although restrictions in respect of COVID-19 may play a part. This number has dropped in recent years, but it’s a provision that the Academy continues to offer for those interested in taking this up.
The majority of this funding continues to be devoted to staff members who are focused on disadvantaged students and, in particular, with the continued provision of Learning Mentors and Assistant Learning Mentors, as well as funding a proportion of the time spent by senior staff and pastoral heads in specific monitoring of these and of LAC students. Mentoring benefits not only those who are removed from whole class situations for individualised study but also those remaining within the class setting, allowing them to work more effectively as a group of students without disruption. Those who have individualised study are reintegrated into mainstream settings, when appropriate, and those absent from ATA for various reasons are provided with catch-up opportunities, again run with dedicated staff support.
The funding continues to be used to support the progress of the most vulnerable students in ATA through raising their literacy and numeracy and by allowing focused groups to operate. The Academy will maintain an even stronger focus with the continuation of study hall, departmental power hours, after-school catch up sessions and the use of both the Easter and May term breaks for exam revision sessions, provided these are still to go ahead as currently planned. This stronger focus has continued to be supported by the significant upgrade over the summer of 2019 of the main Library and Learning Resources Centre (LRC), with seating and ICT provision for up to 84 students. The facility is available from 7.30 in the morning for Year 10 and 11 students each day and until 5.30 in the evening for Year 8 students (4.15 on Mondays and Fridays) for students who lack study space and the correct ambience at home to complete work. Year group bubbles can make use of this resource on a rotational basis during the day and during lockdown this was the resource our key worker and vulnerable children accessed on a daily basis to narrow the learning gaps that will have developed during the period of lockdown. . This LRC continues to be overseen by the Academy’s Librarian in the morning and by a member of the library staff, an assistant learning mentor and a member of the Leadership Group (LG) after school. This is of significant benefit to those disadvantaged through a lack of available resources and quiet learning environment at home.
Attendance and punctuality are key to progress and attainment at school and essential ingredients to a successful working life as adults. The employment of a full time Education Welfare Officer is fundamental to maximising these essential requirements, which can be a particular concern with those from disadvantaged backgrounds and the checking of absences is rigorously carried out. ATA operates a number of incentives to reward excellent attendance and uses an attendance tracker across all Year’s 7 to 11. Students, form tutors, year heads and senior staff make significant use of this with a robust emphasis on the need for students (and staff) to be present at all times. The same focus continues in 2020/21 with an updated Attendance & Punctuality Policy and Procedures to underpin our expectations against a backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic. The Academy continues to promote high attendance levels, whilst recognising that both the current and previous academic years will be impacted because of the virus. ATA also employs the services of two Counsellors who each work a day per week - remotely at present - with a number of vulnerable students.
ATA’s extensive support provision, together with its unstinting focus on the requirement for traditional values, courtesies and expectations, enhances the attainment and progress levels of those for whom such funding is targeted. This has helped to narrow the outcomes achieved in public examinations and other attainment and progress measures. With the cancellation of formal summer examinations in 2020, we have no data to share. Historically, however, progress for disadvantaged students has remained negligibly below that of the Academy student population as a whole, but when compared to the national picture, they significantly outperform on both disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged performances and the Academy strives to ensure this continues going forward. As such, ATA remains a strong advocate of government priorities in what is a key area for schools to channel educational support. This can only assist in raising the levels of attainment for this particular group of students and to reduce the large attainment gap that exists nationally between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged student examination success. ATA maintains that it provides an excellent role in this area.