Schools to receive ‘pupil premiums’ from September 2011
By Lucy Phillips
26 July 2010
Schools will be given extra money to educate children from deprived backgrounds from September next year, the government announced today.
Schools Secretary Michael Gove launched a consultation on the pupil premium, paving the way for its introduction in 2011. There will be a wider overhaul of the way schools are funded the following year.
Gove said addressing the ‘disparity’ between the educational and employment prospects of those from rich and poor backgrounds was a ‘top priority’ for the coalition. ‘Schools should be engines of social mobility. They should provide the knowledge, and the tools, to enable talented young people to overcome accidents of birth and an inheritance of disadvantage in order to enjoy greater opportunities,’ he said.
Last year, only 45 of the 80,000 pupils who qualified for free school meals went on to Oxford or Cambridge universities. Overall, those eligible for free school meals are less than half as likely to go to university as their peers, with the achievement gap between rich and poor having widened over the past decade.
Cash for the pupil premium will come from outside the schools budget, which will be set in the autumn Comprehensive Spending Review. The government is seeking views over which deprivation indicator the premium will use and to what extent it will cover children in care and those with families in the armed forces.
The current schools funding system will remain in place during the first year of the pupil premium but will be made ‘simpler and more transparent’ after that. Ideas include a ‘minimum funding guarantee’. The government will also review the way that academies are funded.
Gove also said that all local authorities would be required to introduce the Early Years Single Funding Formula from April, in a drive to make funding for three to four-year-olds more consistent.
The consultation came as MPs were due to vote on the Academies Bill. They were expected to pass the legislation, which will allow schools already rated outstanding by Ofsted to automatically opt out of local authority control. Others will be free to apply for independent status in one of the most radical shake-ups of England’s schools system in recent history.
But critics claim the government has rushed through the changes, while teaching unions are threatening legal action. Chris Keates, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters/Union of Women Teachers, said: ‘The indecent haste with which some outstanding schools have rushed to apply for, and secure, academy status means that a number appear to have cut corners in terms of consultation with staff and trade unions.
‘These schools are, therefore, vulnerable to judicial review and employment tribunal claims from employees.’