Pupil Premium & Bad Lads

The Background

Our new weight training room is now (almost) complete & ready for action. There is a bit of equipment yet to buy, some about to be delivered, but all the basics are in place.

For those reading this not familiar with the term “Pupil Premium”; in layman’s terms it’s a sum of money received by schools for every child on roll entitled to a free school meal.

The purpose of this facility has always been to help “narrow the gap” between FSM and non-FSM kids in attainment, engagement and attendance. When the concept was 1st pitched to SLT, we identified a cohort of pupils entitled to free school meals, supplemented with a number of disengaged boys in years 10 & 11. Plenty of these lads are our “biggest hitters” in terms of behavioural issues.

The basic notion is that the gym will be used as not only a “motivational carrot”, but an engagement tool.

How will it work?

As funding for the gym project stalled after 1st being proposed, our focus cohort will need some work. Basically, lots of them have now left. At this moment we’re looking at a number of factors when considering boys to target; attendance (particularly on English & Maths days), “reports manager” entries (the pastoral recording system for misbehaviour etc), kids on pastoral report, anecdotal recommendation (who do staff feel would benefit?) and FSM. Free school meal entitlement remains a vital ingredient, not only because of the need to evidence “narrowing of the gap”, but our funding for the gym came directly from the Pupil Premium.

This cohort of pupils will be entitled to designated sessions in the gym, outside of the free-for-all scramble for access that will no doubt occur once we open the facility to all kids in years 10-13.

What are we going to do?

At the moment, three staff will run sessions. I had one of those moments this week, suddenly aware that I’d not even considered to legal/health & safety/qualification requirements of operating a free-weights facility. So, armed with the latest copy of AfPE “Safe Practice…” I started having a think about the practicalities.

All pupils wanting to use the gym will be given a gym pass. We’re trying to coincide the sessions (either lunch or after school) with KS4 English/Maths days. On these days, pupils will need to get their pass “stamped” in their English/Maths lessons in order to validate them. Although this isn’t completely set in stone, a “stamp” will be reflective of; attendance, good punctuality, acceptable work-rate in that particular lesson. No stamp = no gym entry. The gym needs to be seen as a reward first and foremost. Obviously I am aware of the fact that this might backfire on us & it could lead to “catch 22” situations. We’ll see.

Year 10 pupils will work to accumulate total weight lifted aggregates. Leader boards will be used to chart progress. We want kids to be able to see their names on a wall for positive reasons. Meanwhile, behavioural sanctions will cost pupils points. Again, this is in the early stages of planning but a “reports manager” entry might cost a pupil 500kg, being placed on report – 1000kg; a day in the unit may be 2500kg and so on. In order to retain value, the weight aggregates would be rewarded at points throughout the year (those who are responsible for rewards in KS4 might get in on the act here?!).

Year 11 pupils over 16 are permitted to lift heavier weights in line with AfPE recommendations. Leader boards will still be used but with new emphasis placed on challenges & cohort records. Our lads seem to really enjoy the kind of sadistic workouts inspired by Gym Jones (check them out, they’re nuts). There have been discussions about some form of CLV Gym “graduate programme”, whereby completing a specified workout (or series of), would earn pupils a prestigious award. What this will be, I don’t know yet.

What will be the Impact?

Hopefully, our cohort of lads will become much more part of the school community. Some of our kids simply don’t love the badge. We offer them nothing, so they offer us nothing. Or so is the perception. Behaviour isn’t a massive issue at Cramlington, but we still get our fair share of shittiness. By offering our lads a chance to take some pride in this part of their school lives, we should see an upturn in day-to-day conduct.

Hopefully better attendance & punctuality levels. If I want to go and train in the gym at lunch, yet I know I’ve got to get into Maths lesson 1 (and work hard !), I will hopefully make good decisions.

Hopefully better attainment. I’m not going to patronise kids or you, the reader, by saying we’ll be embedding vital numeracy & literacy skills within gym time. I’m sure we will, but it’s getting the kids on-board and wanting to do well that’s the important bit. Once that’s in place, the idea is the kids will be more receptive to the other stuff that school throws their way.

We’ll monitor our cohort closely. After spending the cash, it’s vital that school sees a return on its investment. But it’s also vital that we try our best to do the best by our kids.

Hopefully (now my favourite word), I’ll be back to update you once we’re firmly established in the first term of 2013/14.