House of Commons Library

The Pupil Premium

Published Monday, February 3, 2020

This House of Commons Library Briefing Paper provides an overview of policy on the Pupil Premium since its introduction in 2011, including funding levels, eligibility criteria, and accountability.

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The Pupil Premium is additional funding provided to publicly-funded schools in England with the aim of raising the attainment of disadvantaged children. Funding was allocated in respect of the following categories of pupils for 2019-20:

  • Disadvantaged pupils: children recorded in the school census as eligible for free school meals (FSMs) at any point in the last six years (referred to as Ever 6 FSM). £1,320 was allocated for each primary pupil; £935 was allocated for each such pupil in years 7 to 11.
  • Looked after and previously looked after children: £2,300 for each child currently looked after by an English local authority, or who left the care of a local authority in England or Wales because of adoption, a special guardianship order, a child arrangements order, or a residence order (sometimes referred to as Pupil Premium Plus).
  • Service children: a Service Premium of £300 per eligible pupil paid in respect of children who have been recorded as having a parent serving in the regular armed forces in any school census in the last six years (referred to as Ever 6 service children). It is also paid in respect of children in receipt of a pension under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme or the War Pensions Scheme after their parent died or was injured while serving in the armed forces.

In 2019‑20, £2.41 billion of Pupil Premium funding was allocated in respect of around 2 million pupils. For 2020-21, the funding rates of the Pupil Premium and the Service Premium will increase in line with inflation.

Local authority maintained schools are required to publish a strategy for using Pupil Premium funding on their websites. There is no parallel obligation on academies, unless provided for in their funding agreement, but the Department for Education recommends that academies should publish a Pupil Premium strategy regardless of whether they are required to do so or not. Schools are also accountable for their use of Pupil Premium funding via the performance tables, which report on the performance of disadvantaged pupils compared to other pupils, and through Ofsted inspections, which report on the attainment and progress of pupils who attract the Pupil Premium.

The Pupil Premium Grant is paid as a separate grant to the Dedicated Schools Grant (the main source of revenue funding for schools). As such, it is generally unaffected by the introduction of a National Funding Formula for schools. However, the National Funding Formula does not include a looked-after-children factor; instead, since the introduction of the formula in 2018‑19 all additional school funding for looked-after and previously looked-after children has been targeted through the Pupil Premium Plus. As a result of the change, the Pupil Premium Plus rate increased to £2,300 per eligible pupil from 2018-19.

For a pupil to attract Pupil Premium funding for disadvantaged children, their parent or carer must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit and a request must have been for free school meals. It has been estimated that approximately 10% of those eligible do not register for free school meals and, as a result, schools are not attracting all the Pupil Premium funding they are entitled to.

Commons Briefing papers SN06700

Authors: Robert Long; David Foster

Topics: Armed forces, Armed forces welfare, Incomes and poverty, Local authorities: education, Schools

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