Pupil premium: funding for schools and alternative provision

How schools and non-mainstream settings can receive extra funding to support disadvantaged pupils.

The pupil premium is additional funding given to publicly funded schools in England to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers.

Pupil premium funding is available to both mainstream and non-mainstream schools, such as special schools and pupil referral units. It is paid to schools according to the number of pupils who have been:

  • registered as eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years
  • been in care for 6 months or longer

In the 2013 to 2014 financial year, schools will receive:

  • £953 for each eligible primary-aged pupil
  • £900 for each eligible secondary-aged pupil

Funding for 2014 to 2015

In the 2014 to 2015 financial year, pupil premium funding will increase to:

  • £1,300 for each eligible primary-aged pupil
  • £935 for each eligible secondary-aged pupil

Funding to support looked-after children will increase to £1,900 for each eligible pupil. Eligibility for funding will be extended to all children who:

  • have been looked after for 1 day or more
  • were adopted from care on or after 30 December 2005 left care under:
    • a Special Guardianship Order on or after 30 December 2005
    • a Residence Order on or after 14 October 1991

Identifying disadvantaged pupils

We use eligibility for free school meals as the main measure of deprivation at pupil level.

For the academic year 2013 to 2014, we provide all schools with a list of pupils who have been eligible for free school meals at any point in the last 6 years. This list is available through a pupil premium download from the Key to Success website.

This data will allow you to identify the pupils who have previously attracted pupil premium funding so you can target support accurately. The data can also help you estimate how much pupil premium funding you will be allocated for budget planning purposes. Guidance on the free school meals data is available.

You should work with your local authority’s virtual school head (VSH) to identify your looked-after pupils.

To receive the premium for adopted pupils you should mark them as eligible on the school census. If you do not know who your adopted pupils are, you will need to contact parents and ask them to let you know.


Allocations are made based on the school which the eligible pupil attends at the time of the January school census.

Illustrative allocations for 2014 to 2015 (based on 2013 pupil numbers), final allocations for 2013 to 2014 and the conditions of grants are available.


We pay the pupil premium to local authorities in quarterly instalments. Local authorities then manage the funding and decide when to pass it on to the schools they fund. Education Funding Agency pays the premium directly to academies and free schools.

Local authorities also decide how pupil premium funding is allocated in special schools and alternative provision (AP) settings (including pupil referral units).

From the financial year 2014 to 2015, the VSH will have control over funding for looked-after children.


We hold headteachers and school governing bodies accountable for the impact of pupil premium funding in the following ways:

  • performance tables, which show the performance of disadvantaged pupils compared with their peers
  • requiring schools to publish details online each year of how they are using the pupil premium and the impact it is having on pupil achievement
  • the Ofsted inspection framework, where inspectors focus on the attainment of pupil groups, and in particular those who attract the pupil premium

Online reporting

The level of detail you include in the information you put online is for each school to decide, but you must include the following:

  • your pupil premium allocation for the current academic year
  • details of how you intend to spend your allocation
  • details of how you spent your previous academic year’s allocation
  • how it made a difference to the attainment of disadvantaged pupils

The funding is allocated for each financial year, but the information you publish online should refer to the academic year, as this is how parents and the general public understand the school year.

As allocations will not be known for the latter part of the academic year (April to July), you should report on the funding up to the end of the financial year and update it when you have all the figures.

Good examples of how you might present your information can be found on the websites of Pakeman Primary School, The Heath School and Belmont School.


Ofsted revised their inspection framework in September 2013. As a result, school inspections report on the attainment and progress of disadvantaged pupils who attract the pupil premium.

Pupil premium reviews

Ofsted will recommend that a school carries out a pupil premium review where they:

  • rate the school as ‘requires improvement’ overall and in leadership and management
  • have serious concerns around the attainment of pupils that attract the pupil premium

Where Ofsted recommends that you carry out a pupil premium review, you will be expected to work with a system leader with expertise in closing attainment gaps, to improve ahead of re-inspection.

You can also independently commission a pupil premium review or get support from a system leader as part of your own school improvement.

System leaders

Ofsted can help you identify a local system leader, where there is one available. Schools are also free to find their own local system leader.

You may choose to contact a pupil premium system leader from the National College of Teaching and Leadership (NCTL) .

If you are interested in applying to become a system leader, contact NCTL.

If you are a school wishing to help other local schools carry out their reviews, please notify your local authority or clusters of schools that commission school improvement support

Contact details

National College for Teaching and Leadership

The review process

The system leader reviews the provision for disadvantaged pupils, and works with you on a new strategy to use the pupil premium. The system leader signs off the plan with your headteacher and chair of governors.

You will need to pay for the system leader from your own budget. You can use any part of your budget, including the pupil premium, to fund this.

Your future Ofsted inspections will take into account any improvements made.

Governance reviews

If your Ofsted inspection has also recommended a review of governance, the pupil premium review can be combined with this. For example, you might appoint a system leader for the pupil premium review, who would bring in an expert in school governance to carry out the governance review.

Effective practice

The Education Endowment Foundation has produced a teaching and learning toolkit to help teachers and schools effectively use the pupil premium to support disadvantaged pupils.

Pupil Premium Awards

We present Pupil Premium Awards to schools whose use of the pupil premium has significantly improved the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils.

There are prizes for primary, secondary and special schools and all schools in England can apply. For 2014, the winners for each category will receive a prize of £10,000. The runners-up will receive a prize of £3,000.

If you think your school’s use of the pupil premium has made a real difference to the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, you can put yourself forward for the award.

Visit the Pupil Premium Awards website to nominate your school. The closing date for the 2014 awards is 7 April 2014.

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