Pupil Premium Funding is additional funding given to schools to help with two aims:
Firstly, to help raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and to close the gap with their peers; and secondly, to support children with parents in the Regular Armed Forces.
‘Disadvantaged Children’ are defined as:
- Children who are eligible for Free School Meals or who have been eligible for them in the last 6 years.
- Children who are in local authority care or who have left local authority care for specific reasons, including adoption.
Children are eligible for Free School Meals for a variety of reasons based on parental income levels and receipt of various types of benefits. This is different from Universal Free School meals where the children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 get a free school lunch anyway. Parents with children in Early Years and Key Stage 1 should still apply for Free School Meals so that the school will get Pupil Premium Funding for their child.
How much is it?
In the school year 2015-2016, Primary schools received £1, 320 per child who was eligible for Free School Meals or who had been eligible for Free School Meals in the last 6 year – called Ever 6. Secondary schools received £935 per child.
Schools received £1,900 per child who was in local authority care or who left local authority care for specific reasons, including adoption.
£300 is paid to schools for every child eligible for the Service Child Premium.
What is it for?
The gap in attainment between disadvantaged children and non-disadvantaged children is a big problem for schools. Disadvantaged children consistently underachieve in the classroom compared to their non-disadvantaged peers, regardless of how the school is ranked by Ofsted.
In fact, Professor Steve Strand of Oxford University found that in schools ranked “Requires Improvement”, 34% of children eligible for Free School Meals gained 5 GCSEs A*- C (including English and Maths) compared with 56% of non-Free School Meal children – a gap of 22%.
In “Good” schools, although more disadvantaged children achieved these results (39%), so did more non-Free School Meal children (64%) – a gap of 25%.
Even in schools rated “Outstanding”, the gap persists: with 50% of Free School meal children achieved this standard compared to 75% of non-Free School Meal children – still a gap of 25%.
This means that, even if all schools were able to raise their level to that of “Outstanding” schools, this gap in achievement between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children would still be there. So something beyond the reach of the school must be affecting the attainment levels of these children.
Research is on-going to try to identify what these factors might be, but Strand suggests that it may include parental stress levels and the fact that disadvantaged families are less able to afford educational activities and resources for their children.
Pupil Premium funding was introduced in 2011 to give schools funding to try and close this gap. It’s given to both maintained schools and academies.
Schools are free to spend Pupil Premium money in any way they see fit in order to try to raise the attainment of disadvantaged children and to close the gap with their non-disadvantaged peers.
Schools must report on their website how they have spent their Pupil Premium funding and provide details of the impact this has had on the attainment of children receiving it.