Catch-up premium: the updated DfE guidance explained

Posted on 24th November 2020

Posted by Chris Richards

Chris Richards, Lead Teacher at CENTURY, explores the updates to the Department for Education's catch-up premium guidance and how CENTURY can help your school to thrive.

The impact of the disruption this year and the years to come may be hard to directly measure. One thing for certain is that students require any possible advantage to fulfil their dreams and achieve academic success now more than ever.

Last week the British government announced the full details of how and when schools will receive their catch-up funding, allowing leaders to be able to better plan for the rest of the academic year.

While the government recognises the catch-up premium funding “is especially important for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged backgrounds”, it is great to see that this funding is being provided to all students, reaching those outside of the current disadvantaged definition.

The broad scope of this funding should give leaders additional breathing room from already tight budgets, with money ring-fenced for helping their students from reception to year 11 catch up on missed education across the state sector as well as for learners with education, health and care (EHC) plans.

Confirmed allocations of £80 for each learner in mainstream settings and £240 for special, hospital schools and alternative provisions (AP) will be issued to schools in three tranches. These tranches enable funding equality for every school, based on how many students the school is currently responsible for, instead of the usual lag funding based on previous cohorts.

Schools should use this funding for specific activities to support their pupils to catch up for lost teaching over the previous months, in line with the curriculum expectations for the next academic year in full school opening guidance. (DfE, 19 November 2020)

'Schools must continue to deliver a broad and ambitious curriculum, returning to a normal curriculum no later than the summer term in 2021. This will look drastically different between schools as curriculum planning should be informed by “effective use of regular formative assessment while avoiding the introduction of unnecessary tracking systems.”'

The emphasis on schools and teachers making regular informed decisions in order to rapidly increase progress, without adding to their workload, is coherent with the founding mission of CENTURY. Our platform identifies gaps in knowledge and skills while addressing misconceptions. It uses the latest research in learning science and neuroscience to create constantly adapting personalised pathways for every learner. This creates powerful intervention data for teachers, reducing the necessary teacher workload to achieve this understanding manually. 

'Assessment can help teachers determine how to most effectively support their pupils. Every pupil will have been affected differently by Covid-19. For example, subject-specific assessments might be used to identify particular areas where pupils have forgotten or misunderstood key concepts, to ensure that new material being covered builds on secure foundations. Providing pupils with high-quality feedback, building on accurate assessment, is likely to be a particularly promising approach. (EEF, 2020, p.4)'

To make the best use of this funding, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) published guidance with evidence-based approaches to catch-up on a whole-school basis, highlighting the importance of assessment in this process.

In EEF’s tiered model approach for school planning this year, it highlights that “great teaching is the most important lever schools have to improve outcomes for their pupils”. High-quality teaching for all can be challenging with the need to be flexible and adaptive, but in order to do so “planning effective assessment is integral to supporting great teaching”. The EFF highlights that “such assessments typically won’t offer diagnostic information about pupils’ learning loss, what they need to learn or do next.”

When learning on CENTURY, learners have access to a slideshow and a video followed by a series of formative assessment questions – content all created by our in-house teacher team. CENTURY diagnostics identify where learners have gaps in knowledge and where they need to be stretched. Students are then guided through learning pathways through their courses. The diagnostics can also assess a child’s readiness to re-engage with learning and suggest appropriate content to ensure all learners feel supported. 

The assessments within each CENTURY nugget (micro-lesson) are auto-marked, correcting misconceptions and providing instant, high-quality feedback. Students always have access to the learning material during the formative assessment to encourage them to work out the answer for themselves.

As students complete nuggets, this populates a real-time interactive teacher dashboard giving high-level and question-level information highlighting misconceptions and the ability to use this data to make intelligent interventions. 

With all of the uncertainties ahead, schools need to be in a position to support and provide high-quality remote learning while “showing they are using the funding to resume teaching a normal curriculum as quickly as possible following partial or full school closure”. CENTURY can be adapted to fit with your current mode of teaching with it’s English, maths and science courses for years 3-11.

Decisions and plans for catch-up premium funding need to be clear and transparent. Maintained schools are required to publish “how it is intended their grant will be spent” online, with other schools in the state sector expected to do the same. Inspections will also include discussion about the use of the catch-up premium and how school leaders “ensure the curriculum has a positive impact on all pupils.”

'To support learning, how technology is used matters most. Ensuring the elements of effective teaching are present—for example, clear explanations, scaffolding, practice and feedback— is more important than which form of technology is used. In addition, providing support and guidance on how to use technology effectively is essential, particularly if new forms of technology are being introduced. (EEF, 2020, p.6)'

When schools choose to join the CENTURY family we work together to build the best implementation plan and training model to work for your individual school, as we recognise each school and cohort of students is different. We at CENTURY are here to help and support you and your students. Your dedicated account managers are able to help you provide evidence of the impact of CENTURY on your students.

To find out more about how CENTURY can help your school, book a demo with our team.