Primary and secondary schools diverge over Pupil Premium funding allocation

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While Government funding to support disadvantaged pupils through the Pupil Premium initiative continues to rise, an increasing number of primary schools are ring-fencing the funds for specific schemes relating to disadvantaged pupils.

At the same time, a decreasing number of secondary schools are doing the same thing, according to the British Educational Suppliers Association.

The findings from this year’s BESA annual survey are focused on the opinions and trends of Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) in primary and secondary schools. 

The research provides analysis of the amount of Pupil Premium funding received by schools now that the criteria for inclusion has been extended to include any pupil that has been assessed for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the last six years. It also considers the likelihood of schools to ring-fence this funding for specific intervention programmes including investment in training and resources.

The survey of SEN coordinators from 418 English maintained schools (249 primary, 169 secondary) which was conducted in May 2014 revealed that over half (55 per cent) of primary and just under a third (30 per cent) of secondary SENCOs state that all the funding is ring-fenced for specific schemes relating to disadvantaged pupils.
39 per cent of all surveyed schools share their pupil premium funding between supporting disadvantaged pupils and general school funding, leaving 16 per cent of schools claiming they do not ring-fence any of the funding.

The number of schools who are not planning on ring-fencing the funding for the purpose for which it is given appears to be decreasing in primary but increasing in secondary schools; 7 per cent of primary schools compared with 20 per cent in 2013, and 29 per cent in secondary schools compared with 23 per cent in 2013.

The 1,104,400 eligible primary pupils (27 per cent of the total) and 812,830 secondary pupils (29 per cent of the total) with a further 57,940 pupils eligible for the Service Child Pupil Premium and 42,540 children eligible for the Looked After Child Pupil Premium, resulted in an average primary school receiving an allocation of £78,600, (£34,000 increase from 2012/13) and an average of £235,000 in secondary schools.

In terms of the SENCOs’ level of influence over spending this Pupil Premium funding, 59 per cent of primary and 52 per cent of secondary SENCOs stated that they have extensive influence over spending. 24 per cent of primary and 23 per cent of secondary SENCOs stated that they have overall and final purchasing authority.

The most likely area of spending is small group support, with 27 per cent of primary and 22 per cent of secondary schools indicating extensive use of the Pupil Premium for this purpose.

43 per cent of schools will invest in CPD/training, 26 per cent are considering class size reductions, 86 per cent stated implementing one-to-one interventions, and 14 per cent of the Pupil Premium will be spent on classroom resources.

In 2014/15 this could lead to expenditure of £276 million on classroom resources alone; an increase from £212 million in 2013/14.

A total of 32 per cent of Pupil Premium resource expenditure is expected to be on printed material, 33 per cent on digital content, 27 per cent on general equipment and 37 per cent on ICT hardware.

School Leadership Today
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