In order to spend the PPG effectively, it is of course imperative to have a clear understanding of the barriers faced by disadvantaged children, in particular those who are eligible for the grant. As you would imagine, these barriers vary from child to child, and at Willow Bank we believe the most important thing is to have an understanding of the barriers facing children individually, as well as knowing the strengths and support factors which will aid their educational achievement. This is why we believe that working closely with our families is vital in developing an understanding of how best to support children's education, and at the same time supporting the family's development as a whole. The two biggest mistakes we need to avoid making are a) to forget that children and families in disadvantaged situations also have strengths to offer, and b) to assume that the needs of all children are the same. However, there are some common themes which can be identified, and most children facing disadvantage will be having to cope with one or more of the following issues:
Significantly, children with Special Educational Needs (SEN) are over-represented among children who are eligible for PPG, a factor which the government recognises as being double disadvantaged. This national picture is reflected here at Willow Bank Junior School, where 50% of our children eligible for PPG are also on the SEN register, compared with 10% of the school population as a whole. It remains imperative that we have a full and proper recognition of the potential impact of double disadvantage, and that this is reflected in our strategies for developing individually-tailored support for these children.
Where barriers to learning have predated the start of a child's schooling, the risk is that they have become deeply embedded within the child's sense of self. It is our responsibility, and indeed our privilege, to support children in overcoming such barriers, and to develop the educational skills which are fundamental to this, and which will reduce the risks of such disadvantage being perpetuated in the next generation of the child's family, and the generations that will follow.