Press release

New £50m fund to help most disadvantaged 3- and 4-year-olds

More than 170,000 children in England set to benefit from more than £50 million.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Young children laughing

Three- and four-year-olds from low-income families are to benefit from a new £50 million fund unveiled today helping to prevent them falling behind before they have even started school.

The new early years pupil premium, worth over £300 per pupil, is designed to narrow the attainment gap between young children from low-income families and their peers, setting them on the path to a more successful future.

According to research, children from low-income families are estimated to already be 19 months behind more advantaged peers when they start school. High-quality early education can close this gap and improve results later on in life.

The early years pupil premium aims to help nurseries raise the quality of their provision and today’s consultation will look at how best to make it work.

Nurseries will have freedom to decide how to use the money to help 3- and 4-year-olds learn and develop, for example more qualified staff or specialists in activities like speech and language to give an extra focus on basic skills.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

Every child deserves the chance to fulfil their potential, and this extra funding is a boost to help our youngest children get on in life and succeed.

Boys and girls from poorer families have often already fallen 19 months behind their better off classmates by the time they hang up their coat on the first day of school. Increasing their chances of success has got to be a top priority.

Education and Childcare Minister Elizabeth Truss said:

Children from low income families are already behind their peers in language and communication by the age of 5 - this is not good enough.

We expect nurseries will use this money to create more high-quality nursery provision led by teachers.

We know it’s a challenge to close the attainment gap later on but with the introduction of the early years pupil premium we hope it will prevent this gap from emerging in the first place.

The early years pupil premium builds on the pupil premium, established in 2011, to transform the way we educate our children from low-income families.

Its launch coincides with today’s Pupil Premium Awards ceremony, recognising the schools in England best at helping pupils from low-income families through their effective and innovative use of the funding.

The Deputy Prime Minister will congratulate the 3 winners at a ceremony in London, designed to promote the best ways of using the money so that other schools can follow their lead.

Schools Minister David Laws added:

The pupil premium is about helping schools to help all pupils succeed - regardless of background.

The new early years pupil premium will help to capture those children who need support at an early age - bringing them on a level playing field with their peers by the time they start school.

We’re also celebrating the success of the pupil premium and I want to congratulate all of the schools and their inspiring staff nominated this year and encourage them to go even further for next year’s awards.

The early years pupil premium is part of the government’s programme of reforms to help children get ready to begin school, especially those who are from low-income families. This includes:

  • expanding 15 hours of free early education to 40% of 2-year-olds
  • expanding the role that schools play in the early years
  • tougher inspection and accountability through a stronger Ofsted framework
  • improving the quality of staff entering the early years workforce by introducing early years teachers
  • encouraging new providers into the market including through the introduction of childminder agencies


  1. More information about the pupil premium can be found on our policy page.
  2. The early years pupil premium consultation is available online.
  3. Details on who is eligible for the early years pupil premium can be found in chapter 4 of the consultation.
  4. Award winners will be announced at 10.30am on Wednesday 25 June.

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Published 25 June 2014