‘No surprise’ that some schools are using Pupil Premium to plug holes in budget

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News that some schools are using the Pupil Premium to plug holes in their budgets comes as “no surprise”, teachers said this week.

A poll by the Sutton Trust of 1,163 teachers found that 23 per cent report their school is using the funding to raise the attainment of all pupils or to pay for activities affected by budget reductions.

Furthermore, 22 per cent said their school uses the funding to raise attainment for all students who are falling behind.

Only 53 per cent say the Pupil Premium was being used for its intended purpose – to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

The Pupil Premium was introduced in 2011 and is targeted at children on free school meals, looked-after children and other disadvantaged students. It is now worth £935 per eligible pupil for secondary schools and £1,300 for primary schools.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said the survey’s results were “no surprise”.

She continued: “They are the consequence of the failure of the coalition to ensure there are appropriate checks and balances in the system to ensure all children receive their entitlement.”

The Sutton Trust, alongside the Education Endowment Foundation, hosts the Pupil Premium Toolkit, which uses research ranks Pupil Premium interventions based on their effectiveness and value for money. 

The survey found that 45 per cent of school leaders use the Toolkit to help them make Pupil Premium spending decisions, up from previous years.

However, it seems the most cost-effective strategies are still being shunned by many schools.

Only 13 per cent of teachers cite using pupil feedback and just two per cent peer-to-peer tutoring as part of their school’s strategies – two of the most cost-effective methods according to the Toolkit. 

Instead, the most popular reported strategies are among the more expensive options in the Toolkit – early intervention schemes are used by 55 per cent and one-to-one tuition by 39 per cent. 

This echoed findings from a similar survey carried out last year.


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