Schools set to lose £118m funding for poor pupils

Education / Fri 21st May 2021 at 06:41am

SCHOOLS in England could lose £118m funding for poor pupils this year, the Local Government Association says reports the BBC.

The education department is bringing forward the annual date for counting those eligible for the pupil premium, which it says will help plan budgets.

Pupils who have become eligible between October 2020 and January 2021 will not now be counted until October 2021.

The government said a typical school will see “an increase in its pupil premium allocations” this year.

An LGA survey suggests the new move will add up to a loss of about £93m for primary schools and £25m for secondary schools.

On average, each local authority area will lose about £600,000 in primary-school pupil-premium funding alone, it estimates, based on responses from 72 out of 151 councils in England.

The money – £1,345 a year for primary pupils and £955 for secondary – pays for academic support for poorer pupils.

And nearly 62% of schools have at least five pupils who have become eligible between October 2020 and January 2021, a previous survey, by the National Association of Head Teachers, indicates.

“Pupil premium is vital to support the government’s levelling-up agenda and education recovery plans,” Teresa Heritage, vice-chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said.

“It is imperative that the government ensures that no school loses out in receiving this vital funding this year and that no child is left behind.”

Association of School and College Leaders General Secretary Geoff Barton said the LGA’s analysis laid bare “the scale of the funding black hole left by the government’s inexplicable decision to push ahead with a change to the way pupil-premium funding is calculated, at the height of the pandemic”.

“It was clear from the outset that school budgets would be negatively impacted because the pandemic has particularly badly affected disadvantaged families and has meant the number of children qualifying for pupil premium has grown significantly. 

“Excluding those who qualified for funding between October 2020 and January 2021 has left schools counting the cost.

“The government is very keen to promote its levelling up and education recovery agendas and one way it can easily demonstrate its commitment is by ensuring schools are recompensed for the pupil-premium funding they have been so cruelly denied.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Pupil premium funding is expected to increase to more than £2.5 billion next year, and per-pupil rates are unchanged – so a typical school will see an increase in its pupil premium allocations this year compared to last.

“We have provided a £14 billion increase in school funding over three years – the biggest uplift in a decade – and school leaders can target our ambitious recovery funding, worth £1.7 billion, towards supporting disadvantaged pupils.”

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