Pupil premium reviews: a guide for system leaders

How system leaders can help schools improve how they spend their pupil premium budget.


A pupil premium review looks at how a school is spending its pupil premium funding. As a reviewer, you will work with the school to improve the school’s pupil premium strategy so that they spend the funding on approaches shown to be effective in improving the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

You will carry out a focused review of their current provision and work with the school to put in place an improved strategy, including planned spend, on specific evidence-based interventions.

A guide to effective pupil premium reviews has been developed by the Teaching Schools Council in partnership with teaching schools, the Department for Education and the Education Endowment Foundation.

Who can apply

You should be able to provide evidence of having improved the achievement of disadvantaged pupils, in schools that you have either led or supported closely. Evidence of this can include:

  • above average progress for disadvantaged pupils:
    • 87% in reading, 90% in writing and 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


If you would like to become a pupil premium reviewer, email

In the email, please provide a short description of your experience of having improved the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

‘Champion’ teaching schools have been appointed in each region to provide training and support to pupil premium reviewers. A list of the schools can be found on the Teaching Schools Council website.

How the programme works

A review will be recommended following an Ofsted section 5 inspection that finds that a school:

  • requires improvement for overall effectiveness and leadership and management
  • has significant issues regarding the attainment of pupils eligible for the pupil premium

Schools do not need to wait for an Ofsted inspection recommendation to seek a review. Any school can arrange a review at any time to improve the work they do with their pupil premium budget.

We offer an online directory listing independent experts who are designated system leaders and have a track record in raising the achievement of disadvantaged pupils.

The output will be a written document signed off by you. A copy is sent to the school’s headteacher and chair of governors. Ofsted may review this at future monitoring visits.

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

In addition to the pupil premium review, a review of governance may also be recommended.

You are not required to do a specific number of reviews.


Schools are responsible for paying for their pupil premium review. There is no set cost for a review and it is up to you to 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.


If you have any questions about system leaders, please email

Published 21 March 2014
Last updated 29 June 2018 + show all updates
  1. Removed contact details for teaching school and system leader help desk.
  2. Average progress and attainment figures updated.
  3. Updated criteria
  4. First published.