Ofsted says poor pupils losing out on 'premium' funds


Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw: "The survey revealed some rather disturbing findings"

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Ofsted chief Sir Michael Wilshaw says a flagship policy to target extra funding at poor pupils in England is having little impact on many schools.

A snapshot survey of 117 schools in poor areas suggests the extra £600 per poor pupil a year made little or no difference to support for them.

Sir Michael said it was a "real worry" if cash was being diverted to "tarmacking playgrounds".

Schools minister David Laws said schools would be held accountable.


  • The pupil premium was introduced in April 2011 for pupils in England from low-income families
  • In 2011-12 it was set at £488 per pupil - £625m in total and in 2012/13 it rose to £600 - £1.25bn in total
  • The premium is available for children eligible for free school meals and pupils in care
  • It has been extended from 2012-13 to pupils who have been eligible for free school meals at any point in the past six years
  • Schools are free to spend the extra funding as they see fit but from September 2012, the government requires schools to publish information about how they use it
  • There is also a service premium for children whose parents serve in the armed forces; this was £200 in 2011-12 and rose to £250 for 2012-13

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

The National Union of Teachers said the funding was being used in many schools to plug holes in their budgets.

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.

Speaking about the results of the snapshot survey on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Sir Michael 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."


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.

"So I think (support) is going to the disadvantaged pupils. What I worry about is, is that the best way to help them?"

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers said the premium's "low rate and uneven distribution" meant it was not sufficient to protect schools against cuts to their funding.

"Inflation will soon erode the value of an already-frozen schools budget. As a result of this funding crisis schools are being placed in the untenable position of having to use the pupil premium to plug gaps in existing provision and not for entirely new initiatives," she said.

The pupil premium is a key coalition policy, initiated by the Lib Dems.

Mr Laws said the government would not wish to micromanage schools.

But he added: "Critically, while we're giving those schools freedom to use the money as they think best, we are also putting in place an accountability mechanism which will ensure that they use the money in the right way."

He said this meant that during visits to schools, Ofsted inspectors would "look at whether the schools are closing the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged pupils."

Then inspectors would "look at the ways they are using the money" and be "critical" where this was not effective.

Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said: "Ofsted is supposed to make independent judgements. Its pupil premium report shows that it is now simply a ministerial mouthpiece, giving more credence to poor quality research and political spin.

"Schools are suffering real cuts to funding, and rumours are circulating of a big hit in the Chancellor's autumn statement, so it would be perverse of schools not to use the pupil premium to plug gaps in their funding."

The report comes as other Liberal Democrat policies come under scrutiny, with party leader Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable apologising for breaking their party's pledge to oppose increasing student tuition fees.

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."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 547.

    I really appreciate the help with travel costs so that we can visit university open-days I might otherwise be unable to take my son to.

  • rate this

    Comment number 546.

    There will be a sizeable group of kids who are not doing well in school, adversely affected by problems inflicted upon them by their own families, such as parental substance misuse, physical and sexual abuse and emotional neglect. Use the £ to help identify these psychosocial reasons for underachievement + pay for more properly trained therapists to help them and thereby halt the cycle of abuse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    526. walkswithgoats ....."The desire, gumption and aspiration must come from within."
    Which is why those from Eton are our betters. The Übermacht by virtue of their superior talent and "gumption"!! The £66K fees are immaterial.

  • rate this

    Comment number 544.

    Simple solution. Normally benefits are given to parents. However, if a child is not achieving then instead of giving the parent the money, the parent can only claim the money as pay when they attend extra sessions for the child to improve. Result parent has the same benefit level but is forced to spend more time helping their child to learn.

  • rate this

    Comment number 543.

    #540. Lord Horror

    "So you're incoherent as you are inconsistent."


    Ha Ha! Quite sad, you are clutching at straws now. Anyone reading my previous posts can see the thread of what I've been saying......which isn't about making the Rich poor?!

    As I stated before, the means do exist. It is all about Political will.

    You don't wish to debate, your comments are selective & increasingly crass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 542.

    Its amazing HYS, so poor education has nothing to do with funding but with aspiration, sheer will power can overcome any lack of funding, what a great basis for a state education system, and poverty is caused by the undeserving poor having children. Do people really believe this Daily Mail rubbish.

  • rate this

    Comment number 541.

    #536. Lord Horror

    "State schools merely churn out unemployable NEETs or criminals so they won't be building anything or contributing to anyone's pension - only children from Private schools will do that."

    Strange but true.


    Actually, incredibly crass & untrue.

    From whom do you take your lead, in writing off such a large section of society?

    Mitt? is that you?

  • rate this

    Comment number 540.


    "So your point was both disingenuous & wrong."

    And I refer to the post 510. where you said:

    "The Rich poor? Now you are really having a laugh?! Just who is suggesting that or indeed making the Poor rich. That isn't what any of it's about."

    So you're incoherent as you are inconsistent.

    Again, where will the money come from? Political will is irrelevant if the means doesn't exist.

  • rate this

    Comment number 539.

    I had a letter from my childs school that included "the allocation for PE this year is £100 for all years, for all areas of PE! even replacing old equipment is a challenge."
    This is where we have got to, soon there will not be enough money to buy books or pens. This government is destroying our childrens' education and accusing teachers or fiddling with exams won't help.

  • rate this

    Comment number 538.

    Re 529: You're point should really be that schools have a choice between using a TA on £10/hour, or a supply teacher charged at £40/hour.

  • rate this

    Comment number 537.

    530. mayfair69. Do you class yourself as someone who did badly at school? I'm just curious.

  • rate this

    Comment number 536.

    @Ragnorak "So are children, yesterday's. Today's & tomorrow's will no doubt be necessary for building more. In addition to doing everything else"

    Requires skills and expertise to build anything. State schools merely churn out unemployable NEETs or criminals so they won't be building anything or contributing to anyone's pension - only children from Private schools will do that.

    Strange but true.

  • rate this

    Comment number 535.

    #528. Lord Horror

    "and since you conceded that it won't come from the Rich for reasons already explained"


    Now you're making things up! I never conceded that at all, I said it could, there simply had to be the will to do it.

    It's that will that is missing & therefore the solution, or at least a large part of it.

    So your point was both disingenuous & wrong.

  • rate this

    Comment number 534.

    A lot of children are let down by their parents who are unwilling to spend time with their children encouraging, learning, practicing, reading , listening, etc. These things are free. It is simplisitc to say that a child will struggle because its parents are poor. A child will struggle if its parents show it no interest in life, however good or bad the teachers are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 533.

    The way to raise attainment among disadvantaged pupils is to cut class sizes. Why are children in private schools achieving well? Smaller classes, better resources. It's pretty obvious really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 532.

    Children from poor backgrounds are disadvantaged because they cannot access the same support either financial or educationally at home. Extra funding in schools has to be targeted to individual need. However, no amount of school support can compensate for an environment that is anti-social and expecting something for nothing. Politicians and parents both have to meet their responsibilities!

  • rate this

    Comment number 531.

    the person who mentioned not owning a car but have to pay taxes for roads to be built - actually you do use roads. 1) you leave hospital when you're born 2) what about leaving your old house to the current house you are in now
    3) or maybe, you never had an education because you stayed indoor all the time. but that can't be right, you have a computer. 4) you pay for the police to patrol your area.

  • rate this

    Comment number 530.

    poor people should have there benefit cut if there children do poorly in school. that would motivate them. also cigarette and alcohol taxes
    should go up so the poor can't waste there money on it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 529.

    486. creativeminds

    My point is the government will take anyone to teach provide they are cheaper than the properly trained teacher.

    I will not trusted her to teach my children even as simple as 1+1

  • rate this

    Comment number 528.


    "The Rich poor? Now you are really having a laugh?"

    No. Just making the very simple point that the money has to come from somewhere and since you conceded that it won't come from the Rich for reasons already explained then I am sure that you agree with me that the so-called Parents should be forced to pay for their personal lifestyle decisions - only fair!

    What is the alternative?


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