This week our Primary school sent out a letter asking us to advise them if we were on a number of government benefits to see if our children would qualify for the Pupil Premium. Anyone who qualifies for free school meals is entitled register for Pupil Premium which includes those receiving:
- Income Support
- Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of State Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit, provided they are not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190
I had never heard of the Pupil Premium before, so I did some research – in the 2014 to 2015 financial year, schools will receive the following funding for each child registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years:
- £1,300 for primary-aged pupils
- £935 for secondary-aged pupils
Schools also receive £1,900 for each pupil who:
- has been looked after for 1 day or more
- has been adopted from care
- has left care under:
- a special guardianship order
- a residence order
- a child arrangement order
It seems that this funding has always been kept quiet unless you are a parent governor or someone in the know, as by just applying for free school meals the school know you qualify, however, with free school meals now available for children in years reception, one and two the school no longer knows who qualifies.
I understand the school needs all the funds it can as its budgets are constantly being cut, but I do think this funding is grossly unfair on the pupils whose parents are earning more, perhaps shelling out extortionate amounts on childcare just to stay in work, working two jobs just to make ends meet or even where mum stays at home because extra childcare just isn’t an option.
I also read that every school has to have a statement on the school website that states how their pupil premium money is being used!
I had to search for our one and it wasn’t easy to find – thankfully I know my way around a website:
Our school allocation for 2014/15 is £80,000. Priorities for this will be
- To narrow the attainment gap between those children in receipt of free school meals and those who are not
- Earlier intervention to secure good Reading, Writing and Mathematical basic skills by the end of KS1
- Tuition/intervention programmes for children making slow progress in Reading and Writing.
- To cover costs of school visits for children in receipt of Free School Meals.
So what about those that struggle with reading who are not entitled to this funding – will they get the same support? Surely all pupils should get early intervention to secure the best education and don’t even get me started on the cost of school visits! The way I read the documents is that this money is not divided amongst all the children so they all get an equal education?
All in all I feel it is just another kick in the teeth for parents who may be earning more but still struggling to make ends meet, just like with the two year funding which is only applicable if you meet the same criteria above.
To those in power – what happened to “Every Child Matters” – surely ALL children no matter what background should be treated equally and receive this additional funding!