Schools are failing to use money from the pupil premium to provide extra support to pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds, says a new report by Ofsted.
While the funding is provided to help schools improve outcomes and raise achievement for these pupils, many schools are subsuming pupil premium funding in their general budgets and using it to maintain or enhance existing provision.
The report, The Pupil Premium, found that the most common use of the funding was to pay for classroom support staff, with over two fifths of school leaders surveyed saying that they used the money to pay for existing or new teaching assistants. Half of schools said that the pupil premium was making little or no difference to the way they work.
The pupil premium, introduced in April 2011, currently provides schools with £600 a year for each student eligible for school meals or in care. While schools are free to spend the money as they see fit, the Government is clearly keen to ensure that the extra funding is being targeted at those pupils it is intended to help. From this month, it is requiring schools to publish online information about how they have used the premium.
Ofsted has also announced that, in future, its inspections will pay closer attention to how effectively schools are using the pupil premium to make a difference for disadvantaged pupils, and how governors are holding schools to account for this spending. In a statement, the Government’s education watchdog says it “will be critical of schools that are not achieving well for their disadvantaged pupils”.