June 17, 2024

Understanding the Pupil Premium in England

The Pupil Premium is a critical funding initiative by the UK government, aimed at improving educational outcomes for disadvantaged students in state-funded schools across England. Introduced in 2011, this scheme seeks to close the educational achievement gap between underprivileged children and their peers by providing schools with additional financial resources. In this blog post, we will explore what the Pupil Premium is, who qualifies for it, how it is allocated, and how schools are using this funding to make a difference.

What is the Pupil Premium?

The Pupil Premium is additional funding provided to state-funded schools in England to help disadvantaged pupils of all abilities achieve their full potential. The funding aims to tackle the inequalities that disadvantaged students face and to ensure they have the same opportunities as their peers.

Purpose of the Pupil Premium

The main goal of the Pupil Premium is to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged pupils. The funding is intended to:

Enhance the quality of education: By providing additional resources, schools can offer more tailored and effective educational support.

Narrow the attainment gap: Addressing the academic disparities between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

Support specific groups: Including those with parents in the armed forces (Service Pupil Premium).

Funding Criteria for the Pupil Premium

The allocation of Pupil Premium funding is based on specific eligibility criteria. Schools receive funding for pupils who fall into the following categories:

Free School Meals (FSM): Pupils currently eligible for FSM or who have been eligible at any point in the last six years (Ever 6 FSM).

Looked After Children (LAC): Pupils who are currently looked after by the local authority.

Previously Looked After Children: Pupils who were previously in care but have since been adopted or placed under a guardianship order.

Service Children: Pupils with parents in the regular armed forces, including those who have been eligible for the Service Pupil Premium at any point in the last six years.

Pupil Premium Funding Rates for 2024-25

The amount of funding allocated per pupil varies depending on their educational stage and specific circumstances:

Pupil Premium Allocations for the 2024-25 Financial Year

Primary-aged pupils eligible for FSM: £1,480

Secondary-aged pupils eligible for FSM: £1,050

Previously looked after children: £2,570 (both primary and secondary)

Looked after children: £2,570 (managed by the local authority)

Service children: £340

How Do Schools Use the Pupil Premium?

Schools have the flexibility to decide how best to use the Pupil Premium to support their disadvantaged pupils. However, the funding must be spent in ways that are evidence-based and align with the Department for Education’s (DfE) ‘menu of approaches’. This menu emphasises three key areas:

High-Quality Teaching: Investing in professional development for teachers, recruiting and retaining high-quality staff, and ensuring effective teaching practices.

Targeted Academic Support: Providing one-to-one or small group tuition, academic mentoring, and tailored interventions to help pupils catch up in key subjects like English and Maths.

Wider Strategies: Tackling non-academic barriers to learning, such as poor attendance, behavioural issues, and social and emotional wellbeing. This might include pastoral care, extracurricular activities, and family support services.

Strategies to Maximise Your Pupil Premium

Maximising school budgets and ensuring optimal use of the funding can be a challenging task for schools. The most beneficial decisions about pupil premium spending are based on understanding the specific challenges eligible pupils face. This should be followed by a review of the evidence to identify which actions are most likely to have favourable outcomes.

To ensure you’re maximising the impact of your pupil premium funding, consider the following strategies: 

Data-driven decision-making: Utilise data to identify gaps in attainment and target resources. By analysing performance metrics, you can tailor interventions to individual pupils’ needs.

Take a school-wide approach: Pupil premium should not be seen as a standalone initiative but integrated into the wider school improvement plan. This ensures a cohesive and inclusive approach to raising standards for all pupils.

Staff training and development: Ensure that all staff understand the importance of the pupil premium and how to apply it effectively. Continuous professional development can provide teachers with the skills to address the issues that disadvantaged pupils face.

Extra support

Investing in providing extra support can help address barriers to learning such as poor literacy or numeracy skills, a lack of confidence, or gaps in learning due to absence. Strategies to support pupils include: 

  • Providing one-to-one or small group support within the classroom.
  • Employing teaching assistants to help support teachers and the class.
  • Offering catch-up sessions before or after school to help pupils keep up with their peer group.
  • Creating a school breakfast club to improve attendance and concentration levels.
  • Giving extra tuition to enable pupils who need to catch up with their studies or may need tutoring due to special educational needs (SEN).

Supporting attendance 

Recent data on absenteeism underscores the alarming rise in absenteeism rates across schools. Attendance is a key priority for OFSTED and plays an important role in a learner’s education. 

Pupil premium funding can be used to help with attendance. Improving attendance is a key part of helping disadvantaged pupils reach their full potential. Schools can use pupil premiums to implement strategies that encourage regular attendance, such as attendance mentors. Mentors work with pupils to find out why the pupil is missing school. They also: 

  • Support absent pupils to get back into school.
  • Focus on the personal and learning objectives the schools set.
  • Develop a trusting and open relationship with the pupils they work with.

Strategic planning

The pupil premium strategy evolves each year. Spending money is straightforward; spending it wisely takes time. Understanding specific challenges, enhancing awareness of the evidence base, and developing a long-term planning process are key steps in achieving this. Schools are accountable for demonstrating the impact of their pupil premium spending on pupil outcomes. So, it is therefore important to spend it wisely.

Review regularly and adapt when needed 

The needs of your pupils will evolve, and so will your strategies. Regularly review the impact of your pupil premium spending and be prepared to adapt your approach in response to feedback and results.

Accountability and Reporting of the Pupil Premium

Schools are held accountable for their use of the Pupil Premium through:

Publications: Schools must publish a statement on their website each academic year detailing how they have spent the Pupil Premium and the impact it has had on pupil outcomes.

Ofsted Inspections: Inspectors assess how schools are using the Pupil Premium and the results they are achieving for disadvantaged pupils.

Governance: School governors and trustees are responsible for scrutinising Pupil Premium plans and ensuring the funding is used effectively.

Levelling the Playing Field for Disadvantaged Students

The Pupil Premium in England aims to support disadvantaged students by providing targeted financial resources to schools. It focuses on improving educational outcomes through tailored interventions, data-driven decision-making, and professional development for staff. Schools must integrate these strategies into their improvement plans, ensuring accountability through transparent reporting and reviews to maximise the program’s impact and create an inclusive educational environment.

Get Top Educational Insights Delivered Monthly

Subscribe to our Staffroom Buzz newsletter and join a community of school leaders dedicated to making a difference. 

Continue Reading

What is Safeguarding in Schools?

What is Safeguarding in Schools?

Discover the essential components of safeguarding in schools. Learn how effective policies, training, and practices create safe environments for children to learn and thrive. Explore key strategies for protecting students and fostering their well-being