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Durham University

Research Excellence Framework 2021

Bridging the Education Gap

Billions of pounds of funding to raise the educational attainment of children from disadvantaged backgrounds is being targeted more effectively by schools using the Pupil Premium Toolkit developed by Durham University.

The Toolkit informs decisions about how to spend the Pupil Premium, a funding stream from the UK Government to schools to provide extra help for children from less affluent families, who do not achieve as well as their more affluent peers.

Researchers at Durham University developed the Toolkit to help schools review their support for disadvantaged children and determine their spending priorities for the Pupil Premium.

The Toolkit is an evidence-based resource that is being continuously developed by Durham researchers and provides schools with a unique cost/benefit summary of the relative impact of different teaching approaches. Independent research indicates it is consulted by over half of the secondary schools in England.

Using the Toolkit enables schools to decide on the best approach for their circumstances. This could be a range of initiatives such as intensive tuition sessions for small groups or individuals, summer schools, specialised training for staff, extensions of the school day or work with the families of disadvantaged children.

The Toolkit was developed by researchers in the School of Education at Durham University in collaboration with the Education Endowment Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising the attainment of disadvantaged children and which advises the Government on policy.

In June 2013 the Toolkit was awarded an 'Inspiration for Government Award' by the Institute for Government, an independent think tank promoting more effective government.

Professor Steve Higgins, who led the Durham University team that developed the Toolkit, said: "There is clear evidence of large variation in the way that schools spend Pupil Premium money. The Toolkit helps to inform good decisions that achieve the best value."

Professor Steve Higgins

Steve Higgins is Professor of Education at Durham University. He joined the School of Education in 2006 from Newcastle University, where he was the founding Director of the Research Centre for Learning and Teaching. Before working in higher education he taught in primary schools in North East England where his interest in children’s thinking and learning developed. His research interests include the effective use of information and communications technology and digital technologies for learning in schools, understanding how children's thinking and reasoning develops, and how teachers can be supported in developing the quality of teaching and learning in their classrooms.