Press release

Government announces pupil premium to raise achievement

Information on the pupil premium, which will provide schools with additional funding to be spent on disadvantaged pupils.

A new pupil premium to raise achievement among disadvantaged children will start from 2011, the government announced today.

As set out in the coalition government document, the new pupil premium will provide additional funding for more disadvantaged pupils to ensure they benefit from the same opportunities as pupils from richer families.

Education Secretary Michael Gove and Children’s Minister Sarah Teather have launched a consultation to seek views on how best to operate the premium including what deprivation indicator to use. The premium will help target money so that more can be done to help children from disadvantaged backgrounds that are still not doing as well at school as they could or should do.

Education Secretary Michael Gove said:

Schools should be engines of social mobility. They should provide the knowledge, and the tools, to enable talented young people to overcome accidents of birth and an inheritance of disadvantage in order to enjoy greater opportunities.

Children from poorer backgrounds, who are currently doing less well at school, are falling further and further behind in the qualifications race every year - and that in turn means that they are effectively condemned to ever poorer employment prospects, narrower social and cultural horizons, less by way of resources to invest in their own children - and thus a cycle of disadvantage and inequality is made worse with every year that passes. Last year of the 80,000 pupils who had been on free school meals just 45 made it to Oxbridge. Just 2 out of 57 countries now have a wider attainment gap between the highest and lowest achieving pupils.

This is not good enough and addressing this disparity is a top priority of the coalition government. It is for this reason that we are implementing a pupil premium, to ensure that extra funding is targeted at those deprived pupils that most need it.

The latest figures available show that:

  • only 53% of 7- to 11-year-olds known to be eligible for free school meals (FSM) achieved the expected level in both English and mathematics compared with 75% for non FSM pupils
  • just 27% of pupils eligible for FSM achieved 5 A* to C GCSEs or equivalent, including English and mathematics, compared with 54% for pupils not eligible for FSM

The proposed pupil premium would provide additional per pupil funding on top of the existing funding provided to schools. Schools will be free to spend the additional funding as they choose to raise the achievement of disadvantage pupils.

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 almost 3 times less likely to leave school with five good GCSEs than their richer classmates.

That’s why I’m delighted we are today announcing a new pupil premium, which will give extra funding to schools to help them tackle the inequalities that have been a part of our state system for far too long. Thousands of children will finally be getting the extra support they need to succeed.

The consultation on the pupil premium sets out options for how deprivation is calculated including:

  • free school meal (FSM) eligibility - which could be current eligibility or a measure of whether the pupil has ever been eligible for FSM
  • out-of-work tax credit - pupils in families in receipt of out-of-work tax credit
  • commercial classifications such as ACORN or MOSAIC used by some local authorities

In addition, the government set out its proposal for the pupil premium to:

  • include looked after children who have consistently low attainment with only 15% achieving 5 GCSEs or equivalents compared to 70% of all children
  • explore extending to cover service children who face unique challenges and need to be supported as they progress through school as armed forces families

The government also set out its proposals for distributing overall school funding from April 2011. School funding will in the short term continue to be allocated using the current method to allow the pupil premium to be introduced smoothly. However, the government signalled its intention to review school funding for all schools including academies beyond the 2011 to 2012 year and details will be announced in due course.

The school funding consultation is also seeking views on

  • ending the policy of funding a minimum of 90% of a local authority’s 3-year-old population
  • ceasing to funding dual-subsidiary registrations at pupil referral units (PRUs)
  • a proposal to allow local authorities to apply for additional funding where they have schools serving service children, whose pupil numbers are affected by troop movements
  • a proposal to allow local authorities to claim for 10% of a unit of funding for home-educated pupils
  • an intention to have a minimum funding guarantee

In addition, the government announced today that all local authorities will be required to introduce the early years single funding formula (EYSFF) from April 2011. For too long, early years funding has been inconsistent and patchy across the country - with too many children, particularly from disadvantaged families, not accessing any or all of their free nursery education hours.

The EYSFF will require all local authorities to be transparent about the funding that they are providing for free nursery education for 3- and 4-year-olds, so that parents and providers are able to hold their local authority to account. It will also require local authorities to fund providers for the children that attend their nursery - rather than allowing funding to be wasted on empty places. This will help to ensure that nurseries are making the best effort to fill their places by attracting and encouraging more families to take up free nursery education for their child.

The government has pledged to ensure that funding is focused on supporting those children from disadvantaged families who benefit most from nursery education. For that reason, every local formula must include a deprivation supplement so that more money will be targeted at the children who need it most. This will be set locally in the short term, but we will look at whether - over time - it is feasible to introduce a pupil premium for the early years.

Notes for editors

  1. The consultation on school funding for the year 2011 to 2012 is available on the Department for Education’s e-consultations website and closes on 18 October 2010.
  2. A written ministerial statement that has been made to Parliament and a Q&A document are available to download.
  3. Until the comprehensive spending review has concluded this autumn, the government will not be able to give an indication of precise funding allocations.
  4. The additional pupil premium funding will not be ring fenced at school level allowing schools to decide how this extra funding should be best spent to benefit the individual pupils it is targeted at. Schools will get help and advice from government on how best they can use the money to raise pupil attainment, by publishing information and evidence about what works, including about the impact of new and innovative practice. The government will monitor the achievements of disadvantaged children who are likely to benefit from the premium.

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