Ofsted concludes pupil premium is being spent effectively

15 Jul 14
Schools in England are making good use of their pupil premium funding to successfully boost the attainment of disadvantaged students, Ofsted said today.

Issuing a progress report on schools’ use of the top-up funding, which is paid to schools for each of their pupils eligible for free school meals, the education watchdog said school leaders were generally spending the pupil premium effectively.

However, in a significant minority of schools, weak leadership and governance stood in the way of attempts to narrow the attainment gap.

There is also wide variation between local authority areas. Ofsted noted that in many London boroughs, the proportion of free school meal children achieving five good GCSEs was well above average. However in other parts of the country, such as Barnsley, Portsmouth, South Gloucestershire and Northumberland, eligible children were least likely to achieve this benchmark.

The most common uses of the pupil premium were to pay for: additional staff; booster classes; reading support; aspiration-raising programmes; and learning mentors. Many schools also use the premium to provide after-school, weekend and holiday classes and spending tends to be focused on English and maths.

Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw said: ‘One of the greatest challenges this country faces is closing the unacceptable gap that remains between poorer children and their better-off classmates when it comes to educational outcomes.

‘As chief inspector, I am passionate about improving the prospects of our least advantaged children so I am encouraged by the clear signs in today’s report that more effective spending and monitoring of the pupil premium is starting to make a positive difference in many schools.’

Wilshaw noted that Ofsted itself was encouraging proper use of the pupil premium funds by making it clear to head teachers that schools will not receive a positive rating from the inspectorate unless the can demonstrate they are focusing on improving outcomes for their poorest pupils.

A number of previously outstanding schools had been downgraded after Ofsted inspectors judged their pupil premium money was not being spent efficiently or the progress of poorer children was lagging behind, the watchdog noted.


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