Ranty Friday – The Pupil Premium

School

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!

 

13 thoughts on “Ranty Friday – The Pupil Premium

  1. Frugal queen says:

    Hi CM,

    I teach, so this is a big deal for us. I teach is a deprived area and PP means extra literacy, extra books, more teaching assistants. Most of the children I teach are: in care, living in poverty, at risk and that money helps to close the gap for some children. ‘Every child matters’ ended with Gove. Teachers and schools have greater targets with less overall funds than before. Teachers were made redundant, children’s services are cut to the bone and families are suffering hunger and cold. I do home vists to damp unseated homes, with not enough food and children without adequate clothes. PP isn’t enough and I wish there was more we could do.

  2. Donna @OCG says:

    I have never heard of this before. I can understand why it’s there to benefit those from disadvantaged backgrounds but I can also understand what you’re saying. You’ve made some very valid points. Child care costs today are extortionate and in many cases parents only just break even after they’ve deducted child care costs from their salaries which seems grossly unfair.
    Donna @OCG recently posted…OCG chats with…Olympic Gold Medallist, Ed Clancy MBEMy Profile

  3. We get extra help for our foster kids but I have to agree with you – it should be split between all kids which need support, no matter where they are coming from.
    agatapokutycka recently posted…How to create a safe sleeping environment for your babyMy Profile

  4. Louisa says:

    I have mixed feelings about this. I think anything that can level the playing field so that children from deprived families can have the same advantages is great.
    My concern is for those who are classed as working poor and aren’t entitled to this help when perhaps they need it as much. Many in low paid jobs are worse off than those on benefits because they can’t get free school dinners, free prescriptions, free school trips, subsidised housing cots etc. This isn’t the fault of the benefit claimants, more the fact that the minimum wage is so low and tax credits are being cut left,right and centre. But it does leave them in an uneviable position of not being to access the extra funds that are available.
    Louisa recently posted…Dog on Stilts reviewMy Profile

  5. Hollie says:

    This is always a never ending argument. I think as long as the premium is used for all children that is what’s important. I don;t think many people have a spare £1900 to throw around. It’s a shame they have to work like this.
    Hollie recently posted…You Say Selfie, I Say CelfieMy Profile

  6. PinkOddy says:

    I have previously written about this as our son got pupil premium last year because we had been on benefits some point in the last 6 years (my husband’s company went into liquidation). They said that it was because our son was “struggling” that they were able to access help. He was not achieving his predict grade A in A-level Chemistry!

    My youngest son is really behind and needs full time care but his statement doesn’t cover it, so the school foot the bill. I asked if he was able to access this pupil premium and they said no because he wasn’t entitled to free school meals when we were on benefits!!!!

    Totally and utterly messed up. we had a form and kids who got free school meals now get free school uniform too.
    PinkOddy recently posted…Is the Pen Mightier than the iPad?My Profile

  7. Mary Keynko says:

    Schools struggle to make ends meet, and this extra cash makes life easier for them – and that can only benefit all the children there. it can be tough for families who are just over the threshold, school trips are expensive, but these families are struggling at a basic level, food, heating, everything – you’re right every child deserves a chance – and we need to support those who have nothing and who’s prospects because of their backgrounds are limited. Otherwise we’ll have another generation of people with no education and that doesn’t benefit anyone!
    Mary Keynko recently posted…Bored with Black Friday alreadyMy Profile

  8. Globalmouse says:

    Hmm I have never heard of this before – I think they should be made to be more open about it, it feels like they are trying to hide it…….
    Globalmouse recently posted…Little You, Little MeMy Profile

  9. Mummy Barrow says:

    Wow I had never heard of this before. I can see why they do it and think in priniciple it is a good idea but why the secrecy?! And I am not sure some families will want to divulge all that inforamtion to a school will they?

  10. As a former school governor, I am one of those who were aware of pupil premium. The fact of the matter is that children from families on benefits etc do tend to do less well academically. Of course there will always be exceptions to the rule either way. The funding is to level the playing field and give those kids a better start in life so they can achieve their own potential and hopefully break the cycle of a life on benefits.
    The school can choose how to spend that money to benefit those children. The reality is that if they pay for an extra teacher or TA to work on literacy with these kids for a few hours a week, many schools will include kids who are not pupil premium, as long as the majority of the kids in the group are.
    At the end of the day, that funding helps your school. If there’s extra cash to pay for support for kids who are struggling, it means the class teacher’s time is being freed up to focus on all if the children in the class.

    • TheBoyandMe says:

      What she said! In practise it’s for those children who will suffer from deprivation (the likes of which most of us can’t imagine, honestly you’d be shocked), but in reality other children may well benefit.

      We are due a £100k deficit in our £1m+ budget next year. That’s not resources which won’t be bought, that’s redundancy for several staff. If a school can boost their pot with the pupil deprivation grant in order to ensure all children have the staff (the greatest resource) to further their learning, then they should go for it.
      TheBoyandMe recently posted…Christmas FlorentinesMy Profile

      • Kara says:

        Thanks for your comments ladies, I completely understand why the schools should apply for the funding but I was surprised it existed and I am unhappy with the wording on our school statement. It does come across that only some children will benefit and not the whole school.
        Kara recently posted…Ranty Friday – The Pupil PremiumMy Profile

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