Good news for North East schools as yesterday’s announcement of the Government plans to increase the Pupil Premium and extend the eligibility criteria will bring £31m in extra funding according to reports in the local press.
From next year the Pupil Premium will increase by £112 to £600 per pupil and more children will qualify for the Premium as the Government has extended its reach to cover any child that has been registered for Free School Meals (FSM) in the past six years. The Journal estimates this will mean nearly 80,000 children in the North East will benefit from the expansion.
The move comes after many Head Teachers and education commentators have highlighted the limitations of the current eligibility criteria in reaching all disadvantaged children and young people. Children who have been eligible for Free School Meals at any point in their school career have been found to have consistently lower educational attainment than those who have never been eligible and in the North East just 31% of pupils eligible for Free School Meals leave school with five good GCSEs including English and Maths.
Announcing the changes, Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said “For too long social background has been a deciding factor in a child’s achievement and future prospects. In a fair society, it’s the Government’s responsibility to close the gulf in achievement, where the poorest children are less likely to leave school with five good GCSEs than their less deprived classmates.”
Head Teachers and local politicians have widely welcomed the increase in funding and change to the criteria however some have raised concerns about where the ‘new’ money was coming from and whether it would only offset cuts in other services or budgets.
Pat Glass, Labour MP for North West Durham and member of the Education Select Committee, said: “I am, of course, delighted at any additional funding targeted at disadvantaged pupils, but this increase in funding is coming to schools at the same time as Local Authority funding is being slashed, schools are losing their additional education support allowances and they are having to pay for specialist support services that they previously received free. I am, therefore, not convinced that this is new money and not just more recycling of existing funds.”
Coverage also includes discussions with School leaders as to how they use the Pupil Premium in their schools . Callum Kidd, Head Teacher of Carr Hill Primary School in Gateshead, where 62% of children are eligible for free school meals, said: “It is up to the schools on how the money is spent, but there are guidelines. We look at all of our children and their attainment and those pupils who are considered to be ‘slow movers’ in terms of their progress are put into key groups to get additional support from teachers and teaching assistants. I used this year’s Pupil Premium allocation to recruit more teaching assistants who give one-to-one tuition to targeted pupils.”
At this year’s SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit, Prof Rob Coe of Durham University presented a guide to the most impactful way for schools to allocate the Pupil Premium based on the Sutton Trust’s toolkit which can be accessed here.
In related news, Alan Milburn, ex MP for Darlington and the Government’s Social Mobility Tsar, today delivered a major speech on child poverty suggesting that progress has started to decline and that the Government’s child poverty target would “simply be missed”. He called on the Government to focus efforts on early years support and childcare stating that the countries that have made the biggest improvements in both reducing poverty and increasing social mobility invest heavily in these areas.
- Pupil premium cash for poorer children rising to £600 (BBC News)
- Government to extend number of children to get £488 pupil premium (Guardian)
- North East school to receive cash to help poorer children (Journal Live)
- More children will receive pupil premium (Northern Echo)