Introduced in 2011, the pupil premium is a sum of money given to schools each year by the Government to improve the attainment of disadvantaged children.
This is based on research showing that children from low income families perform less well at school than their peers. Often, children who are entitled to pupil premium face challenges such as poor language and communication skills, lack of confidence and issues with attendance and punctuality. The pupil premium is intended to directly benefit the children who are eligible, helping to narrow the gap between them and their classmates.
Schools are given a pupil premium for:
Schools can choose how to spend their pupil premium money, as they are best placed to identify what would be of most benefit to the children who are eligible.
Common ways in which schools spend their pupil premium fund include:
Often, all of the children in a class will reap some benefit from how the school spends its pupil premium: for example, if the money is used to fund an additional teaching assistant who works across the whole class, rather than providing one-to-one support. But research shows that the fund does help to narrow gaps between disadvantaged children and their peers, particularly in English and maths.
There is no obligation for your school to consult you about how they use the money they claim for your child, although some schools may involve parents. However, schools do have to show that they are using their pupil premium fund appropriately. This is measured through Ofsted inspections and annual performance tables showing the progress made by children who are eligible for pupil premium. In addition, they have to publish details online, including how much money they have been allocated, how they intend to spend it, how they spent their previous year’s allocation and how it made a difference to the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
Prior to April 2018, children qualified for free school meals – and accordingly pupil premium – if you received any of the following benefits:
These benefits have now been rolled into a single benefit, called Universal Credit. From April 2018, free school meals and pupil premium will only be allocated to pupils with a family income under £7400 (net) per year.
Your child’s school will be able to tell you what you need to do to register your child as eligible.
Since September 2014, all children in Reception and Years 1 and 2 have qualified for free school meals, regardless of their family income, but only the children who would qualify for free meals under the above income-based criteria will receive the pupil premium. If your child qualifies for free school meals, it’s important that you tell their school – even if they take a packed lunch – as this enables them to claim pupil premium.