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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.

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New Opportunity Fund to boost provision for bright, disadvantaged children

17 Aug

It is now official.  Bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds are underachieving.  Some time ago, the Sutton Trust were banging the drum for them.  Rebecca Allen, Director of Datalab who carried out the research for the Trust, revealed that a much higher proportion of children on free school meals or from disadvantaged backgrounds were unable to go on from primary SATs to secondary GCSEs and achieve similar results – even for those in the highest 10% of results at state primary school level in England.

The Social Mobility Commission had pointed out in the past that disadvantaged children of all ages underperform.   Allen’s research specifically compared the results of most able disadvantaged children at the primary stage with their later results in GCSEs.   She discovered that one of three boys eligible for free school meals – where households earned £16,000 or less annually or on benefits – who attained top marks at the end of Key Stage2 failed to feature among the top 25% of those at GCSE level.   Meanwhile, a quarter of disadvantaged girls who attained top Key Stage 2 results, failed to feature in the highest quarter of GCSE grades.

Allen wondered: “The highly able Pupil Premium children had the school and home support to do really well at primary school, so why do things go so wrong for some of them at secondary school?

“Nobody’s looked at how this happens; what sort of qualifications highly able Pupil Premium children take, or where this missing talent is in the country. Obviously, it is in areas that are underperforming generally, but there are also areas with good schools that nevertheless do poorly for highly able children.”

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Justine Greening gives education a financial uplift

18 Aug

I        Introduction

On 17 July 2017, the Education Secretary, Justine Greening, pledged an extra £1.3 billion to schools and academies over the next two financial years in an announcement in parliament.  The aim is to provide a per-pupil increase of at least 0.5% for every school/academy in 2018/19 and 2019/20.

While this is welcome, the reality is that instead of a significant cut in the budget, it will be a real-term freeze from now to 31 March 2020.  Over a four-year period up to that point, schools/academies will face a 4.6% cut in their finances, according to the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS). Education spending in the UK is expected to shrink from 4.4% of the gross domestic product to 3.8%. Today, the government spends 18% more on state pensions than on education.   Unsurprisingly, the teacher unions are calling for an extra £2 billion a year.

According to its manifesto in the run-up to the 8 June 2017 election, the Conservatives promised to raise the schools’ budget by £4 billion by 2022 to ensure that no school lost out under the National Funding Formula (NFF) which is to be introduced in the next financial year.   The IFS is of the view that Ms Greening’s promise is more generous than plans in her party’s manifesto and matches those of the Liberal Democrats.

While it will be up to Local Educational Authorities (LEAs) to act as post men and women when distributing the budgets to schools following the government allocation, Ms Greening is introducing a minimum level of per-pupil spending in 2019-20 set at £4,800 for every secondary school/academy.  (The minimum funding level per pupil for primary schools has yet to be announced at the time of writing.)   While youngsters in Berkshire will benefit from rise in the current per-pupil secondary funding of £3,991, those in Tower Hamlets where the per-pupil funding is £6,906 will have to endure the reduced pain of lesser financial cuts than expected.

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Ofsted Annual Report 2015/16

1 Jan


Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Schools (HMCI), published his fifth and final Ofsted annual report on the education system in England on Thursday, 1 December 2016.  He retired 30 days later.  In presenting the report, Sir Michael said “a world class education system is within our grasp – but only if serious capacity challenges are urgently addressed”.

Sir Michael stressed that a north/south ‘geographical divide’ meant the ablest pupils in the North and Midlands were less likely to reach A/A* at GCSE. He said: “Standards can only truly be considered high if they are high in every part of the country and for all pupils regardless of background or ability.”

However, his report is, in the main, positive.    The country’s schools/academies, he avers, had made progress over the last five years. Educators could be justly proud.  “Young people are getting a better deal than ever before,” he said.  School/academy leaders responded well to the changes in the system.  The decision to replace the “satisfactory” judgement with “requires improvement” led to schools/academies upping their game, making a greater effort ensuring that pupils are offered the very best possible education.     Of the former 4,800 satisfactory primary schools/academies, 79% were now good or outstanding and, of the previous satisfactory secondary ones, 56% were good or better.

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The Pupil Premium Grant (PPG): Questions for Governors to Ask

13 Apr

In the 60th issue of Governors’ Agenda (see pages 27 to 29) we set out what the Premium was about, how much schools entitled to the grant will receive and the manner in which Ofsted judges whether the pupils (and taxpayers) are securing value for money.

In the March/April 2015 issue of Governing Matters, produced by the National Governors’ Association, John Dunford, the National Pupils’ Premium Champion, praises governors for the manner in which they ensure that their schools are using the resource well quoting the three reports that Ofsted has written on the subject.   In HMCI’s annual report in 2013/14, Sir Michael Wilshaw wrote: “Governing Bodies offer heads challenge as well as support. They are increasingly aware of their responsibility to evaluate how the Pupil Premium funding is used and monitor the school’s performance management process.”

However, there is more to be done.  Many governors know little about the amount of funding that their schools are receiving by way of the Pupil Premium Grant (PPG), less about how it is being used and hardly anything about whether it is being used well.   Besides, there is no single method for using it well, but rather several methods depending on the schools’ contexts.  Continue reading