Poor pupils losing out on premium funds


A new policy to target extra funding at poor pupils in England is having little impact on many schools, according to Ofsted, following a survey which suggests that the extra £600 per poor pupil a year made little or no difference to support for them.

Speaking about the results of the snapshot survey on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw said: "We found that over 50% said that it was having either little or no impact on the way they organise and manage their schools in relation to the use of money on poor children. We find that surprising - this is a large chunk of public money."

Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds often do not do as well as their more advantaged peers and the funds are aimed at helping to bridge the gap.

Under the scheme, schools in disadvantaged areas in England are allotted £600 per head to help give extra support to poorer children.

The Ofsted report, which surveyed and inspected nearly 300 schools in total, found that half the schools thought the pupil premium was having a positive impact on raising achievement, but it said few could provide evidence to back this up.

But schools minister David Laws said schools would be held accountable.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said the government had introduced the pupil premium at the same time as cutting school budgets elsewhere, so overall the amount of money in the front line in schools was exactly the same after the pupil premium.

"Actually what you see in Ofsted's data is that schools have invested in extra teachers and extra teaching assistants, by and large, so that they can give extra help for these pupils."

The shadow schools minister Kevin Brennan said: "A year and a half after being introduced, this report shows that the pupil premium is not working in the way it was intended, because it fails to offset the cuts the Tory-led government has made to the schools budget."

The report comes as other Liberal Democrat policies come under scrutiny following breaking a party pledge to oppose increasing student tuition fees.

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