Pupil premium reviews

How to commission a pupil premium review for your school.


A pupil premium review looks at how your school is spending its pupil premium funding. The purpose of the review is to improve your school’s pupil premium strategy, so that you spend the funding on approaches shown to be effective in improving the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

The reviewer will be an independent, experienced leader with a track record of making these improvements for disadvantaged pupils.

A guide for effective pupil premium reviews has been developed by the Teaching Schools Council.

When you should commission a review

You can commission a review at any time if you want to improve your school’s pupil premium strategy. All schools should consider whether they could benefit from the fresh perspective of an experienced school leader to help them try new approaches or improve current provision to help raise the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils.

Ofsted will recommend that you commission a review if, as a result of a section 5 inspection, it identifies specific issues regarding the provision for disadvantaged pupils.

In some cases, the Department for Education (DfE), your local authority, your regional schools commissioner, or the organisation involved in running your school, academy or free school (for example, the trust or diocese) may recommend that you commission a review if there are concerns about the results of your disadvantaged pupils.

You should start the process of commissioning a review within 2 weeks of it being recommended and should aim to have the review completed within 8 weeks. If an Ofsted inspection report recommends the review, the monitoring inspector will expect it to be undertaken in a timely way.

In cases where you also need to commission an external review of governance, you should commission this separately from a different reviewer.

Find a reviewer

You should commission the review from an independent expert, especially if the review has been recommended by Ofsted or the DfE. This means identifying a reviewer who is independent of your:

  • local authority, if you are a maintained school
  • trust if you are an academy or free school
  • diocesan board, foundation or trust, if you are also a voluntary or foundation school

The reviewer should also:

  • have a recent track record as a school leader in raising the achievement of disadvantaged pupils
  • be able to offer a fresh perspective on your school’s use of the pupil premium and its impact

If you cannot identify a reviewer who meets your requirements, you will need to satisfy yourself that any reviewer offered by the local authority, trust, diocese or foundation has the necessary expertise and can provide a truly fresh perspective.

You can contact independent experts who are system leaders designated by the DfE as having a track record in raising the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

You can find experts:

In all cases, you may wish to make sure that the reviewer can provide evidence of having improved the achievement of disadvantaged pupils, in schools that they have either led or supported closely. Specifically, you may wish to seek a reviewer who can demonstrate they have had a leadership role at a school with, using the 3-year rolling average figures published by the DfE:

  • above average progress for disadvantaged pupils:
    • 87% in reading, 90% in writing and 85% in maths making expected levels of progress at key stage 2 (2015 3-year rolling average)
    • 58.1% in English and 50.8% in maths making expected levels of progress at key stage 4 (2015 3-year rolling average)
  • above average attainment for disadvantaged pupils:
    • 67% achieving level 4+ in reading, writing and maths at key stage 2 (2015 3-year rolling average)
    • 38.1% achieving A*–C in English and maths at GCSE at key stage 4 (2015 3-year rolling average)
  • at least 6 disadvantaged pupils in the relevant cohorts being tested

The review process

It’s up to you to make the arrangements with the reviewer. The guide for effective pupil premium reviews can support this process.

Both you and the reviewer need to be clear about what is expected of all parties. So you may wish to put together a short document outlining the roles, responsibilities and output of the review. If your school is maintained by a local authority, you will need to follow any procedures that the authority usually requires when you contract for services.

After the review

After the review, your school should have an improved strategy for raising the achievement of disadvantaged pupils and spending your pupil premium funding, informed by the recommendations in the review. You should write the strategy with the system leader and they should have an opportunity to comment on a draft of the strategy. The strategy should be agreed by your governing body or trustees. If your school would like the system leader to provide any further support, you can arrange this with them directly.


There is no set cost for a review. It is up to you to approach a system leader and negotiate an appropriate amount. As a guide, day rates should reflect pay and expenses for a senior leader or headteacher, including the costs incurred by their school to release them. A typical day rate for a system leader is around £300-£500. The review will probably take between 2 and 4 working days.

You can pay for the review, and any subsequent follow-up or support, using your pupil premium funding or any other part of your school’s budget.


Please email if you have any questions.

Published 25 March 2014
Last updated 29 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Removed contact details for teaching school and system leader help desk.

  2. Updated criteria

  3. Updated guidance.

  4. First published.