Councils stand ready to help the Government prioritise disadvantaged pupils in its education recovery plan and to prevent the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and young people and their peers from widening further as a result of the pandemic.
A total of £118 million for disadvantaged pupils could be lost from school budgets in England this year due to a government change in how Pupil Premium funding is calculated, a new survey by the Local Government Association (LGA) reveals.
The LGA said councils stand ready to help the Government prioritise disadvantaged pupils in its education recovery plan and to prevent the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and young people and their peers from widening further as a result of the pandemic. It is urging the Government to ensure no school will lose out on vital Pupil Premium funding this year.
Publicly funded schools in England get extra Pupil Premium funding from the Government to help them improve the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils. It amounts to £1,345 a year for every eligible primary age pupil, or £955 for every eligible secondary age pupil.
However, for the 2021/22 financial year this funding will be based on the October 2020 census of pupils instead of the January 2021 census.
As a result, schools with children who have become eligible for this funding – which pays for free school meals and academic support - during the pandemic will not receive any additional funding for another whole year.
An LGA survey of councils and analysis of government census figures shows that this change could result in:
- a loss of Pupil Premium funding of around £93 million for primary schools and £25 million for secondary schools;
- this equates to an average loss of around £600,000 in primary school Pupil Premium funding per local authority area.
Not only have schools reported significant increases in costs during COVID-19, they now face worrying funding reductions in Pupil Premium funding. The LGA said that by changing the date of Pupil Premium reporting, the Government can ensure that schools receive Pupil Premium funding for all eligible pupils this year.
Cllr Teresa Heritage, Vice Chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:
“Councils and schools want to work with the Government on education recovery and share concerns about the needs of disadvantaged children who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
“There will be many schools with children who will have become eligible for Pupil Premium between October and January who will now not qualify for this extra funding for a whole year.
“Pupil Premium is vital to support the Government’s levelling up agenda and education recovery plans. 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.”
Notes to Editors
- Estimates are based on responses from 72 out of 151 relevant councils in England (48 per cent) surveyed by the LGA. The figures have been grossed to the equivalent of a 100 per cent response using Department for Education census figures on the numbers of pupils receiving free school meals for 2019/20.
Number of pupils
- The average primary school in England received about £6,000 in extra funding through the £302 million Recovery Premium for state primary and secondary schools.
- A survey by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) found that nearly two-thirds (62 per cent) of schools had at least five pupils who had become eligible for Pupil Premium funding between the October and January census and therefore will not receive this funding for 2021. Lost funding for five primary pupils is £6,725 – more than the average £6,000 ‘catch-up’ recovery premium funding allocated to primary schools.
- Polling by the Sutton Trust also found that more than a third (35 per cent) of primary school headteachers report that Pupil Premium funding is being used to plug budget gaps elsewhere – up from 22 per cent pre-pandemic in 2019.