Pupil Premium: the facts
Introduced in April 2011, the pupil premium is allocated to children who are looked after by the local authority, those who have been eligible for FSM at any point in the last six years (also known as Ever 6 FSM) and for children whose parents are currently serving in the armed forces. The level of premium for 2013-14 is £900 per primary pupil, rising to £1300 per pupil for 2014-15. Secondary FSM ‘Ever 6’ attract a premium of £900 rising to £935 in 2014-15.
From April 2014 children who are looked after will attract a higher rate of funding than children from low-income families – the ‘pupil premium plus’, which will be £1,900 per pupil for 2014-15. This is to reflect the unique challenges they face at school where they often struggle to keep up with their peers at both primary and secondary level.
Children who have parents in the armed forces are supported through the service child premium which for 2014-15 will be set at £300 per pupil.
- Department for Education: Pupil Premium Funding Statement (December 2013)
Attainment gaps between pupils from deprived backgrounds and their more affluent peers persist through all stages of education, including entry into higher education. The highest early achievers from deprived backgrounds are overtaken by lower achieving children from advantaged backgrounds by age seven. The gap widens further during secondary education and persists into higher education. The likelihood of a pupil eligible for FSM achieving five or more GCSEs at A*-C including English and mathematics is less than one third of a non-FSM pupil. A pupil from a non-deprived background is more than twice as likely to go on to study at university as their deprived peer. Source:
It is for schools to decide how the pupil premium allocated to their school is spent. Schools will be held accountable for their use of the additional funding to support pupils from low-income families and the impact this has on educational attainment. School performance tables now include a ‘Narrowing the Gap’ measure showing how disadvantaged children perform in each school. Since September 2012, schools have had to publish online details of their pupil premium allocation and their plans to spend it in the current year.
Pupil premium eligibility criteria for Children Looked After (CLA)
Children looked after by the local authority qualify for pupil premium from the Reception year through to year 11 and when a child becomes looked after continuously for six months during the financial year. From April 2014, under the ‘pupil premium plus’ they will be funded from their first day in care. The local authority will allocate to the school a pro-rata allocation from the beginning of the first school term following the date on which the child becomes looked after for six months. The pupil premium for children looked after is paid directly to the school or the education provider in equal amounts each term.
All maintained schools and academies are required to have a designated teacher who is a source of expertise about the barriers to teaching and learning which prevent looked after children achieving their potential. The designated teacher also plays an important role as the main link with the local authority which looks after the child. They have a duty under the Children Act 1989 to promote his or her educational achievement. It will be for the school to decide how best to use the premium to meet the educational needs of the child. In doing so, schools will want take account of the discussion and actions to narrow the achievement gap and promote learning from the Personal Education Planning meeting for the child or seek advice from the allocated Education Adviser from the Virtual School.
Ofsted and pupil premium
The most recent school inspection handbook produced by Ofsted states that its inspectors pay particular attention to how schools are using the pupil premium. In September 2012 Ofsted published the results of a survey* it carried out to identify how schools were using this money to raise achievement and improve outcomes for pupils. Recommendations for schools from the survey include:
- School leaders, including governing bodies, should ensure that pupil premium funding is not simply absorbed into mainstream budgets but instead is carefully targeted at the designated children. They should be able to identify clearly how the money is being spent.
- School leaders, including governing bodies, should evaluate their pupil premium spending, avoid spending it on activities that have little impact on achievement for their disadvantaged pupils, and spend it in ways known to be most effective.
- Schools should continue to seek ways to encourage parents and carers to apply for free school meals where pride, stigma or changing circumstances act as barriers to its take-up
Ofsted now have a sharper focus to the performance and progress of pupil premium pupils in their inspections. It is unlikely that a school will be judged ‘outstanding’ if its disadvantaged pupils are not making good progress. Schools that are judged not to be using their pupil premium effectively will be expected to commission an external pupil premium review, led by a system-leader, in order to improve provision for their disadvantaged pupils.