Press release

Pupil premium evaluation paves way for new raft of measures so schools help disadvantaged pupils

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

Schools Minister David Laws announces a raft of pupil premium measures to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

Students looking at an interactive whiteboard

Ofsted is to place a greater emphasis on schools’ performance on disadvantaged pupils, outstanding heads will support schools with their use of the pupil premium, and John Dunford will be the new Pupil Premium Champion.

Independent research published by the Department for Education shows 4 out of 5 secondary schools and more than two-thirds of primary schools introduced or enhanced support for disadvantaged pupils as a direct result of the pupil premium.

Schools Minister David Laws today set out a package of measures to help schools further narrow the unacceptable gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

The measures include:

  • increasing schools’ accountability on disadvantaged pupils’ attainment
  • detailing the support available to schools as part of the pupil premium review
  • the appointment of John Dunford as the National Pupil Premium Champion

These measures will come into effect from September 2013.

The pupil premium - worth £2.5 billion per year by 2014 to 2015 - is an extra £900 per eligible pupil for schools to raise attainment for all disadvantaged pupils and close the attainment gap between them and their peers.

The coalition commitment to the pupil premium was underlined by the Chancellor last week as it was included in the protected schools budget for the 2015 to 2016 spending review.

Pupil premium evaluation

The independent evaluation of the pupil premium was carried out for the department by social researchers TNS-BMRB and the universities of Manchester and Newcastle. In a survey of 1,240 schools, they found that:

  • 80% of secondary schools and 67% of primary schools have introduced new support and/or enhanced their existing support for disadvantaged pupils as a direct result of the pupil premium
  • 75% of schools thought using additional staff to support disadvantaged pupils was very effective
  • two-thirds of schools thought they would not be able to do as much for their disadvantaged pupils without the pupil premium
  • 70% of schools already use evidence from other schools and 45% use academic research to help them make decisions on how to spend their pupil premium funding

However, the research shows that some schools are prioritising interventions that evidence suggests are not consistently cost-effective or good value, such as the recruitment of additional staff. Some are also not using or aware of robust evidence of what works.

The findings chime with a recent National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) survey from the Sutton Trust which showed that only 2% of schools are diverting the funding to things like improving classrooms, an issue flagged by Ofsted last year; and only 3% of senior leaders said they were using pupil premium funding to offset budget cuts elsewhere compared with 11% in 2012.

Increased school accountability on disadvantage

Building on the findings of the independent evaluation, the Department for Education is working with Ofsted to further its work in tackling the unacceptable gaps in attainment disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

In 2012, at key stage 4, 38.5% of pupils eligible for the pupil premium achieved 5+ A*-C grades including English and maths GCSEs, compared to 65.7% of all other pupils. This is an attainment gap of 27.2 percentage points.

In 2012, at key stage 2, 68% of pupils eligible for the pupil premium achieved level 4+, compared to 84% of all other pupils. This is an attainment gap of 16 percentage points.

From September 2013, Ofsted will introduce a sharper focus to the performance and progress of pupil premium pupils in their inspections. It is unlikely that a school will be judged ‘outstanding’ if its disadvantaged pupils are not making good progress.

Schools will now be held to account for:

  • the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils
  • the progress made by their disadvantaged pupils
  • the in-school gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

This means that all schools will be held to account specifically for the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The 3 measures will also be used across other key parts of the existing accountability system: they will be part of the range of evidence considered during Ofsted inspections, they will be published in performance tables, and used in letters that ministers send to schools about their performance.

In addition to the 1-year performance data, performance tables will now also include new 3-year rolling averages for schools. Using this method, even schools with a small number of disadvantaged pupils - such as those in prosperous areas - can be held to account effectively, while maintaining the necessary pupil anonymity.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

It is vital we support disadvantaged pupils to fulfil their potential. We introduced the pupil premium to give headteachers a funding boost to achieve that aim and the evaluation showed promising signs of its impact.

However, there is much more to be done. Disadvantaged pupils’ attainment is unacceptably low compared with their peers. Schools must shoulder the responsibility to reverse that, and the government must help them do that as well as hold them to account.

I am pleased that Ofsted will add considerable weight to its scrutiny of the progress of disadvantaged pupils during its school inspections. And the pupil premium review process will help struggling schools to form a plan of action to ensure they are using this significant extra money effectively.

Pupil premium review

As well as holding schools to account, the increased focus on disadvantaged pupils will also lead to support for schools who struggle to effectively improve the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils from headteachers who have a strong track record in this area.

From September 2013, any school judged by Ofsted as ‘requiring improvement’ in the categories for overall effectiveness and leadership and management, and that also raises concerns about the attainment of its disadvantaged pupils, will take part in a pupil premium review. They will be supported by another head to carry out a sharp, focused review of how they use their pupil premium, to develop a new strategy for using it more effectively.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership will publish details of headteachers with a proven track record of achieving good outcomes for disadvantaged pupils on its website. Schools will be able to approach either these, or other organisations with the necessary expertise, to provide them with the necessary support.

Pupil Premium Champion

We are also announcing the appointment of John Dunford as the new Pupil Premium Champion. John Dunford is the Chair of Whole Education and the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors, and former General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

Taking up the post in September, John Dunford will use his vast experience of working in education to act as an advocate for the pupil premium. He will highlight and share examples of the best uses of the pupil premium around the country. He will also be able to flag issues raised by school leaders and teachers with the Department for Education.

Schools Minister David Laws said:

I am delighted that John agreed to be the first Pupil Premium Champion. His experience and influence in the profession will be an invaluable resource for the department. I’m counting on John to really understand how schools are supporting their disadvantaged pupils, not only so he can share the best ideas with them, but also to learn from schools to help us shape our policies on the pupil premium.

Commenting on his appointment, John Dunford said:

I am delighted to be taking on the role of Pupil Premium Champion to support schools in the effective use of the pupil premium in closing the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and others. The gap remains wide nationally, but I know through being on the judging panel of the Pupil Premium Awards that there is some very effective practice in using the pupil premium in some schools. I look forward to helping to highlight these and share them with other schools.

I have already spoken to conferences of headteachers and governors about the benefits of using the Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit, which provides evidence of what works and I look forward to doing more of this in this role in the future.

Notes to editors

  • The pupil premium evaluation is available on the department’s website.
  • The NFER research on the pupil premium is available on the Sutton Trust website.
  • The Ofsted press release with further details on the increased accountability for schools for disadvantage is available on their website.
  • David Laws first announced the idea of strong leaders helping other schools with their plans to help disadvantaged pupils in a speech at the ASCL’s ‘Closing the Gap’ event on 5 March 2013.
  • Dr John Dunford OBE:

John Dunford is chair of 3 organisations: Whole Education, the Chartered Institute of Educational Assessors and the charity Worldwide Volunteering and is a trustee of the charity, Education for All. He carries out educational consultancy for a range of organisations, including the Isos partnership.

John conducted an independent review of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, reporting to the Secretary of State for Education, who accepted the review’s recommendations, which have been incorporated into the Children and Families Bill 2013. He has recently co-authored reports for the National College on academy chains and on the leadership of free schools, university technical colleges and studio schools. John was also part of the judging panel for the Pupil Premium Awards 2013.

John was General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders from 1998 to 2010. He was previously part of a the leadership team of 3 secondary schools in the north-east of England from 1974 to 1998, including 16 years as head of Durham Johnston Comprehensive School. He was a member of the Councils of Durham and Nottingham Universities for 11 and 6 years respectively and was a member of the Local Government Association’s Commission on the Organisation of the School Year.

After over 40 years in numerous education roles involving leadership, policy making and government relations, during which he has been influential in shaping national education policy and widely quoted in the media, John has retained a deep knowledge of schools and teaching. He has written extensively on national education policy, especially in the fields of accountability, curriculum, assessment, 14 to 19 education, leadership and inspection.

DfE enquiries

Published 2 July 2013