The parent's guide to the pupil premium
Many children from families who receive certain benefits are entitled to a sum of money paid to their school to boost their learning. Many children who receive pupil premium are eligible for free school meals. If your child usually qualifies for free school meals based on the family receiving certain benefits, this will continue during coronavirus school closures. This could be in the form of food vouchers, direct payments, schools keeping kitchens open, or packed lunch deliveries.
Introduced in 2011, the pupil premium is a sum of money given to schools each year by the Government to improve the attainment of disadvantaged children. This is based on research showing that children from low income families perform less well at school than their peers. Often, children who are entitled to pupil premium face challenges such as poor language and communication skills, lack of confidence and issues with attendance and punctuality. The pupil premium is intended to directly benefit the children who are eligible, helping to narrow the gap between them and their classmates.
Primary schools are given a pupil premium for:
Schools can choose how to spend their pupil premium money, as they are best placed to identify what would be of most benefit to the children who are eligible.
Often, all of the children in a class will reap some benefit from how the school spends its pupil premium: for example, if the money is used to fund an additional teaching assistant who works across the whole class, rather than providing one-to-one support. But research shows that the fund does help to narrow gaps between disadvantaged children and their peers, particularly in English and maths.
There is no obligation for your school to consult you about how they use the money they claim for your child, although some schools may involve parents. However, schools do have to show that they are using their pupil premium fund appropriately. This is measured through Ofsted inspections and annual performance tables showing the progress made by children who are eligible for pupil premium.
In addition, they have to publish details online, including how much money they have been allocated, how they intend to spend it, how they spent their previous year’s allocation and how it made a difference to the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.
All children who currently qualify for free school meals based on their family circumstances are entitled to pupil premium. This applies if you receive any of the following benefits:
In addition, pupils who have qualified for free school meals on the above grounds in the past, but are no longer eligible, continue to receive pupil premium for the next six years.
Schools are responsible for recording the children who are eligible for pupil premium in their annual school census - you don't have to do anything yourself, other than making sure you return any paperwork that relates to the benefits you receive or your child's entitlement to free school meals.
If your child qualifies for free school meals or has at any point in the past six years, it’s important that you tell their school – even if they're in Reception or KS1 and receive universal school meals for infant pupils, or are in KS2 and take a packed lunch – as this enables them to claim pupil premium.