Chair's statement on funding for disadvantaged pupils
30 June 2015
A statement from Meg Hillier MP, Chair of the Committee of Public Accounts:
It's welcome that since the introduction of the Pupil Premium, head teachers and school leaders are now more focused on improving outcomes for disadvantaged children but it should be a matter of concern that some schools are not spending this funding in a cost effective way.
Some schools are opting for high-cost but low impact interventions which are not informed by an evidence base of what works. For example, while 7 out of 10 schools spend Pupil Premium funding on teaching assistants, only 25% of school leaders thought this was one of the most effective ways of improving disadvantaged pupils' attainment. A lack of routine monitoring of school performance in supporting disadvantaged pupils also means any challenge by the Department for Education or Ofsted for a school to be more effective may be too late for the children they educate.
The attainment gap has narrowed slowly since 2011 and it's important that schools receive the funding they need to support disadvantaged pupils. It's concerning then that some disadvantaged pupils will not actually receive funding because of how the Department identifies them. For example, 11% of pupils who are currently eligible for funding do not receive it because their parents do not claim the entitlement for free school meals. The recent introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals has removed an important incentive for some parents to claim - the Department must make sure this does not cause any drop in take-up.
Reducing the attainment gap is crucial to tackling poverty. Failure to make the best use of Pupil Premium funding will mean we fail to invest in children, the future taxpayers of our country.
- National Audit Office report: Funding for disadvantaged pupils
- Inquiry: funding for disadvantaged pupils
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