The Corsham School – Getting the philosophy right

SSAT National Conference 2015 blogA philosophy of equity for all has helped The Corsham School significantly close the gap, as assistant headteacher Jason Wood explains ahead of his workshop at the SSAT National Conference 2015…

Ensuring that the philosophy a school has in embracing its pupil premium strategy is as intrinsically important as the individual strategies it employs to deliver it. The Corsham School recognised this as a vital element to success several years ago.

The school was ‘invited’ to participate in a collective drive in the South West to be part of an HMI-led initiative to close the gap. When I attended a seminar led by Sir John Dunford, the Government’s pupil premium champion, one comment from him stuck in my mind: ‘No excuses’.

Scrutinising the reasons for this gap was not the priority. The key to making a difference would be, firstly, acknowledging the gap, and then ensuring that the whole school community was behind the drive.

When changing our philosophy we knew it was going to take more than 3 or 4 key personnel to deliver the change. It required every member of staff from our student receptionist and support staff, to all teaching staff, even our local community, we knew everyone must play their part.

I would challenge any visitor to walk into a lesson and ask the member of staff who the Pupil Premium students are.


None of this was enough however, to prevent a Section 8 visit from HMI back in June of this year. Extracts from the subsequent report include:

  • ‘The governors, senior leaders and staff demonstrate a strong commitment to raising the achievement of disadvantaged students.’
  • ‘These effective strategies are helping the low-achieving disadvantaged students to catch up with others.’
  • ‘Most lessons stretch and challenge the most able disadvantaged students well.’
  • ‘Governors challenge the cost and impact of initiatives funded by the pupil premium.’

In August the gap reduced dramatically – from 32% to 19% – testament to the concerted efforts of all the staff, and their dedication to reducing the gap and raising the life chances of a number of students.

At The Corsham School, we don’t have excuses, only a philosophy of equity for all.

Hear more from Jason about the school’s journey at 13.25 on day two of the conference.

SSAT National Conference 2015

Find out more and book your place at the SSAT National Conference 2015. Member schools receive one free place!

The Corsham School welcomes Ofsted report on disadvantaged pupils.

Visit The Corsham School’s website.

Follow The Corsham School on Twitter: @corshamschool

Follow SSAT on Twitter: @SSAT

Like SSAT on Facebook.

Student co-planners can make teachers’ job easier

20 November 2015

There should be no excuses – schools CAN make the difference for FSM pupils

24 November 2015