What is the pupil premium?
The pupil premium is a grant given to schools in England. Introduced in 2011, it is designed to help schools close the attainment gap between children from low-income households and their peers, helping to overcome challenges that students might have in terms of language and communication skills, attendance, punctuality and self-confidence.
The pupil premium is allocated to schools for each pupil who is eligible for free school meals (FSM) and for pupils whose parents are serving in the armed forces. For the 2018/19 financial year, primary schools receive £1,320 for each pupil eligible for FSM, while secondary schools receive £935. Children from service families receive a child pension from the Ministry of Defence, with schools being awarded £300 for children of parents serving in the armed forces.
There is no obligation for your school to consult you about how they use the money they claim for your child, although some schools may involve parents. However, schools do have to show that they are using their pupil premium fund appropriately. This is measured through Ofsted inspections and annual performance tables showing the progress made by children who are eligible for pupil premium. In addition, they have to publish details online, including how much money they have been allocated, how they intend to spend it, how they spent their previous year’s allocation and how it made a difference to the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
What can pupil premium funding be used for?
Schools are able to decide how they use their pupil premium funding, knowing the kinds of interventions that will benefit their pupils. Some schools may involve parents, but there’s no obligation for them to do so. However, they do need to prove – through Ofsted inspections and annual performance tables – that the funding is being used appropriately, as well as having to publicly detail how much money they have been given, how they intend to spend the premium, and the difference it has made.
As this suggests, pupil premium can be used for many things – here are just a few ideas to get you started:
Pupil premium can be spent on employing teaching assistants (TAs) to support teachers and learning in the classroom. While their duties vary a lot from school to school, TAs can provide targeted academic support to individual or small groups of pupils, which can result in a positive impact on academic achievement.
Pupil premium funding might be spent on increasing participation in the arts, especially if this is designed to directly benefit academic learning. For example, the premium could be used to provide music lessons for children, which may, in turn, help to foster positive attitudes to learning and improve self-confidence more generally.
Pupil premium can be spent on digital technology – such as laptops and tablets – to help improve children’s learning. This could be technology for students – such as one-to-one laptop provision – or teachers – such as interactive whiteboards and online learning platforms.
Before and after school programmes
Running a literacy breakfast club before school or maths catch-up session after school are other ways in which the pupil premium might be spent. Ultimately, these provide an additional time for academic support as well as potentially improving pupil attendance and engagement.
Additional English language classes
The pupil premium is often used for interventions targeting English skills. For example, it can help with funding additional, supplementary English classes to support children whose first language isn’t English – especially if they speak another language at home.
Small group tutoring
Small group tutoring and revision workshops for schools helps students consolidate their subject knowledge, improve their exam technique, reduce stress and improve motivation, so are an ideal candidate for pupil premium spending. Funding can allow regular supplementary classes or organising an in-house day revision course.