What is it?
Introduced in 2011, pupil premium is additional funding given by the government to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and to close the gap between them and their peers.
How much does the school get?
A child may be eligible for pupil premium if their parent or guardian receives one of the following:
- Income support
- Income-based jobseekers’ allowance
- Income-related employment and support allowance
- Support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- The guaranteed element of state pension credit
- Child tax credit (provided that you are not also entitled to working tax credit and have an annual gross income of £16,190 or less)
- Universal credit
Children who have qualified for free school meals at any point in the past six years are also eligible to receive pupil premium. This is what is meant by ‘Ever 6 FSM’.
Where does the money go?
Schools can choose how to spend their pupil premium money on the basis that they are in the best position to determine what would most benefit pupils. This would of course vary from school to school.
Here are some common ways in which schools spend their pupil premium fund:
- One-to-one or small group interventions to help with academic study
- Employing extra teaching assistants
- Funding trips
- Breakfast club
- Extra tuition
- Tech equipment to aid learning
As you can see from this list, it is highly likely that all children will benefit from how the school spends its pupil premium.
Any school can commission a pupil premium review to look at its pupil premium strategy and identify ways they can use the funding more effectively. This review can be recommended by Ofsted, the local authority, the Department of Education or the academy trust. Schools (maintained by the local authority) are held accountable for how they spend this money as they must publish their strategy for using the pupil premium on their website. Additionally, Ofsted’s school inspections report on the attainment and progress of pupil premium students.
In September 2012 Ofsted advised schools that pupil premium funding should not be merged into the main budget of the school, but should be carefully allocated and tracked so it is serving its purpose and benefiting disadvantaged pupils. In this report, Ofsted also advised school leaders to avoid spending the money on activities that have little impact on the achievement of these pupils. Helpfully, the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has created a pupil premium toolkit to help schools decide how to spend money. It maps the cost of interventions against their effectiveness, and how good the available evidence is.
Ultimately, we must be aware of creating and perpetuating unhelpful generalisations when it comes to pupil premium students, spending or methods. What works in one school may not work in another and what works for one child receiving pupil premium may not work for another. Each case is its own and as long as the government, teachers and parents all agree on the child’s achievement being the most important aspect of any approach, then we are all working towards the same goal.