Expression of interest sought for Research Project

The Impact of Pupil Premium Plus on Looked After Children

The National Association of Virtual School Heads (NAVSH) is a charity set up by members in response to the role becoming statutory. NAVSH exists to improve the educational outcomes of looked after children by working with partners and commissioning research to ensure that the educational needs of looked after children are better understood. One of charity’s central research priorities is todevelop best practice in the use of Pupil Premium Plus in order to maximise its impact. Virtual School Heads are jointly responsible and control an estimated £132 million of pupil premium and NAVSH would welcome research in to how to evidence impact.

NAVSH (National Association of Virtual School Heads) wishes to commission research to understand the impact of pupil premium plus on looked after children. We plan to use this robust evidence base to guide our members and to share more widely with partners particularly schools so that the most effective methods are used to support this vulnerable cohort.


The pupil premium introduced in 2011 is additional funding for publicly funded schools in England. It is designed to help disadvantaged pupils of all abilities perform better and close the gap between them and their peers.  Whilst the majority of this funding is targeted at children from lower income families it also includes additional funding for looked after children: pupil premium plus.

There is no doubt that the pupil premium has enabled schools to do more to improve the results of less advantaged pupils. A strong evidence base has been developed particularly via the development of the Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit which is increasingly used by teachers as a reference point for what interventions are most likely to have an impact on vulnerable students in schools. The toolkit however is a generic tool for use on all vulnerable children and does not isolate interventions that may be particularly helpful for children in care.

Proposed Research Questions

  1. How do Virtual School Heads use and deploy pupil premium to meet the education and wider needs of looked after children?
  2. How do Virtual School Heads measure the impact of pupil premium plus on looked after children?
  3. What guidance and support is available for Virtual Schools to guide them on how best to influence the spending of pupil premium plus?

Methodological Requirement

NAVSH seeks original, ambitious and robust proposals from individuals or research teams. Bids will be judged on the proposed approach, expertise of the researchers and value for money.

We expect that a mixed methods approach will address the key questions most robustly, combining a review of existing literature with surveys and interviews of our members, partners and case studies of children and young people. NAVSH has access to rich sources of quantitative data and is well networked to provide access to a broad range of key professionals who work with children in care.


  • A substantive report, published in NAVSH branding outlining the policy context, key findings and recommendations.
  • The creation of (or a proposal for) a working guide/toolkit for practitioners
  • Partnering with NAVSH on the release of the report, including a launch event and wider dissemination

Acceptable bidders

The successful party will have a track record of conducting credible, influential research into vulnerable students. They should be an individual or group experienced in producing well-evidenced, newsworthy, conclusions. They will need to show evidence of experience in any research methods proposed and effective data analysis leading to robust conclusions.


NAVSH is a relatively new and small charity with big ambitions. This project represents our second attempt to formally commission research which can make a real impact to some of the most vulnerable children in society. We are offering a grant of £10,000 – a significant proportion of our modest income. We seek expressions of interest from parties who understand our context, share our values and a have a willingness to collaborate with us on our journey to set the research agenda.

Selection Process

Interested parties should submit an expression of interest consisting of:

  1. An academic CV not more than 2 pages
  2. An outline research proposal not more than 2 pages

To by 9thFebruary 2019.