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Children, pupils, students are not at risk of underachievement because they are ​Pupil Premium / SEND or any other label they may be given. They are at risk of underachievement because of the impact of socio-economic disadvantage on their learning, wellbeing and personal development. A special educational need may also impact on this, exacerbating challenges. But we want to argue that a label led approach can be problematic. The fact that a pupil is eligible for the Pupil Premium, the fact that a pupil has SEND tells us very little about that pupil as an individual.

The fact that some pupils that did not reach age related expectations in reading, writing or math’s were Pupil Premium and SEND does not provide useful information for teachers and leaders in planning and implementing strategies to help children to thrive. There may be a corollary between the labels and underachievement, but this should not limit our expectations of what children can achieve. The corollary provides limited information about how we respond to the needs of pupils as individuals.

The key messages here:

  • The practitioner is the intervention. We need to ensure that staff have the support, expertise, knowledge, and agency to support their learners. Consistent, high quality staff are critically important.
  • Every pupil is an individual. A focus on labels can disempower teachers and anonymise pupils.
  • That pupils with additional needs get at least equitable access to well trained, highly qualified staff in comparison to their peers.

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