Government give the Pupil Premium Grant an uplift

13 Apr

From 1 April 2020, the Department for Education increased the size of the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG), a grant for the most financially disadvantaged children, i.e. those who have in the last six years been entitled to free school meals (FSM) and/or continue to be entitled.

The PPG rate increased by £25 for every entitled primary pupil – from £1,320 to £1,345 – and £20 for each secondary pupil – from £935 to £955.

The Pupil Premium Plus, which is allocated for every pupil who has left local authority care through adoption, a special guardianship order or child arrangements order (i.e. in care) will also rise by £45 – from £2,300 to £2,345.   For a child who has one or both parents serving in the army, navy or air force, the “Service Premium” will rise from £300 to £310 annually.

While this is in line with the annual rate of inflation, in real terms the grant has not kept pace with the cost of living in the previous four years, because it was frozen.

In 2019/20, Pupil Premium payments for around two million eligible pupils cost the government £2.41 billion.  The uplift will cost the government an extra £45 million (circa) annually.

The prime minister’s office said parents will be able to find out how much extra funding their local school/academy is due to attract under planned increases for the next financial year using an “new, easy-to-use website”.

Meanwhile, in January 2020, the government pledged to force local authorities ensure they funded schools appropriately, “appropriately” being defined as £3,750 – up from £3,500 – for each primary pupil and £5,000 – up from £4,800 – for a secondary pupil from 1 April 2020.

However, the National Education Union (NEU) accused the government of school funding rhetoric, which “does not match the reality”.   The NEU warned that most schools and academies would be worse off this financial year than they were in 2015.

Under proposals set in September 2019, local authorities continued to set their own local funding formulae in 2020-21, but the government will require town halls to use its new minimum per-pupil funding.  This appears to be the first step towards creating a national funding formula.

Before the pandemic hit the world, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that schools and academies would receive an extra £2.6 billion in 2020/21. An extra £2.2 billion would be allocated in 2021/22 and £2.3 billion in 2022/23.  The total increase over the three years amounts to £7.1 billion.

“We’re guaranteeing the minimum level of funding for every pupil in every school so that, with a top-class education, our children can go on to become the world’s future innovators, trailblazers and pioneers,” said Boris Johnson. “As we start a new chapter in our history, our younger generations will be front and centre of all that we do.”

But the Institute for Fiscal Studies warned that plans to increase the overall school/academy budget by £7.1 billion over the coming three years will still result in an “unprecedented” 13-year real-term freeze.

Statistics published by the Department for Education revealed that in 2019/20, schools and academies received on average £5,940 per pupil.  The amount received in 2010 based on today’s prices was £6,050.    If a grant paid to schools and academies to cover increases in the teachers’ pension scheme were to be excluded from the calculations, the per-pupil funding would be £5,820 – 3.8% lower in real terms than it was in 2010/11.

The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) ordered the DfE to publish a “comprehensive set” of official figures on school and academy funding to clear the funding fog.

 

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