Schools from across Essex came together last week in an effort to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
While GCSE and Sats test results in the county are continuing to improve, students from poorer backgrounds (those for which schools are entitled to pupil premium funding) typically do significantly less well than their peers.
Essex County Council is keen to encourage schools to work together to help close the gap and hosted the Essex Pupil Premium conference at Chelmsford City Racecourse in Great Leighs last week.
More than 300 people, representing about 200 different Essex schools, attended the event, which was geared at sharing ideas, resources and best practice.
Among the themes covered was the need for an improved understanding of the real barriers faced, as well as for schools to have higher expectations of disadvantaged pupils and constantly review their approaches.
The conference also coincided with the launch of a new pupil premium toolkit for schools, while the Raising Attainment for Disadvantaged Pupils steering group, which has representatives from both Essex County Council and various Essex schools, will soon meet to discuss further opportunities for improvement.
Cllr Ray Gooding, Essex County Council’s Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning, said: “We want to ensure all children get the best start in life and raising the attainment of disadvantaged children is a key priority.
“I am very pleased that so many schools are showing a real commitment to ensuring that all pupils receive the best possible education, regardless of their background.
“Schools play a vital role in equipping children for future life and it is important we do everything possible to break down any barriers to achievement for all pupils.”