The Pupil Premium (PP) is additional funding allocated to schools on top of the main funding that they receive. This funding is targeted at students from disadvantaged backgrounds (eligible for Free School Meals or In Care) to ensure that they are able to benefit from the same opportunities as students from less deprived families. The Pupil Premium exists because data suggests that students who have been eligible for Free School Meals at any point in their school career have consistently lower attainment than those who have never been eligible.
Since April 2020, the Pupil Premium is worth £955 and goes to students who at any point in the past six years have been in receipt of Free School Meals (FSM); £2345 goes to any student who has been continuously looked after for the past six months or who has been adopted from care under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 or who has left care under a Special Guardianship or Residence Order; finally £310 goes to students whose parent/parents are currently serving in the armed forces or are in receipt of a pension from the MoD.
Research shows that the most academically able pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are most at risk of under-performing. Evidence shows that children from disadvantaged backgrounds generally face extra challenges in reaching their potential at school and often do not perform as well as their peers, therefore the pupil premium grant is designed to allow schools to help disadvantaged pupils by improving their progress and the exam results they achieve.
According to the latest research by the DfE, it has been recognised that since 2014, around 27% of pupils are seen as ‘disadvantaged’ based on economic deprivation or social care needs. These pupils attract the pupil premium to their school and accountability includes a focus on their outcomes.
Pupil premium funding is designed to accelerate the progress and raise the attainment of all educationally disadvantaged pupils. It is not restricted to eligible pupils and can be used to support other pupils needing additional support because, for example, they need or have a social worker, or are acting as a carer, even if these pupils are not FSM-eligible. School leaders remain free to meet their pupils’ needs as they assess them.
The attainment gap is the most difficult test facing schools and the Pupil Premium gives additional public funding to schools in order to close this gap. However, although it provides funding, it also provides focus, setting the achievement of children from disadvantaged backgrounds as a priority.