Spellzone and the Year 7 Catch-Up Premium for UK schools - it makes good maths!

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In September 2012, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg announced that UK secondary schools will receive £500 of additional ‘Catch-Up Premium’ funding for each Year 7 pupil (aged 11-12 years old) who did not achieve Level 4 or better at Key Stage 2 in reading and/or maths.

The aim of this funding is to pay for additional support for these pupils in literacy and numeracy to help them to catch up and access the secondary curriculum more fully.

This support is welcome. According to Department for Education figures (from the 2012 Key Stage 2 provisional data and the autumn 2012 School Census data), 13 per cent of UK Year 7 pupils did not achieve level 4 in reading in 2012. At the time of the announcement, there was no specific funding aimed at intervention for this year group.

The funding is not ring-fenced and schools are free to make decisions about how it is best used in the context of their existing strategies to help underperforming pupils catch up. They are likely to need to offer intensive support to pupils, for example, those joining in Year 7 from abroad. (it is also worth noting at this point that it is estimated that the specific learning difficulty of dyslexia affects around ten percent of the population).

This support might include individual tuition or small-group teaching, focusing on particular areas of weakness. Activities and approaches which are known to work, or to emerging ideas which are showing early promise are encouraged by the Department.

Their guidance states:

Using the funding:

  • Schools should assess the needs of individual pupils to decide the best way to use the funding.
  • Schools should select programmes and approaches for which there is the good evidence of effectiveness in improving outcomes.

Effective use of funding to support catch-up may include:

  • Individual tuition in addition to classroom teaching. Schools should take care to minimise risks from pupils missing out on mainstream lessons.
  • Intensive small-group tuition, perhaps supported by new classroom materials and resources. This could take place at lunchtimes or after school.
  • Purchasing external services and materials to add to those provided by the school, for example tutor services or proven computer-based learning or online support.

The Department of Education recommends that schools receiving the Year 7 Catch-Up Premium publish information about how they are using the funding (alongside the information they publish about use of the Pupil Premium). Ofsted inspectors will also take keen interest.

Spellzone is used successfully in many secondary schools to support those Key Stage 3 pupils who still need help with spelling. The cost to provide support for an unlimited number of these pupils for a full year equals half of one Catch-Up Premium payment.

That surely is good maths?


20 Feb 2013
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"This is a fantastic opportunity for our students!  I'm sure Spellzone will be invaluable in helping them to improve their spellings and therefore improve the quality of their writing in all subject areas!"

Teacher, High School, UK