The pupil premium designed to help poorer students is making “little or no difference” in many schools, according to a new Ofsted report.
Their survey found that many schools did not disaggregate the Pupil Premium from their main budget and are instead using the funding to maintain or enhance existing provision rather than to put in place new activity.
Half of the schools surveyed said the pupil premium was making little or no difference to the way they work.
The Government intends the pupil premium, to “address the current underlying inequalities between children eligible for free school meals (FSM) and their wealthier peers by ensuring that funding to tackle disadvantage reaches the pupils who need it most”.
Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT, the largest teachers’ union, said:
“This Ofsted report on the impact of the pupil premium says nothing that the NASUWT did not predict at the time the pupil premium was introduced.
“The pupil premium was never, despite claims to the contrary by ministers, ‘new’ money for schools.
"The fact that it was introduced at a time of savage cuts to the education budget and it was left to the discretion of schools on how to spend it has resulted in the premium being simply swallowed up in schools' budgets.
“As the cuts are set to continue, any benefit there might have been as a result of the introduction of the pupil premium will be eroded away.
"If the pupil premium is to have any widespread positive impact on the children and young people for which it was introduced, it will need to be additional to school budgets and ring fenced, with close scrutiny of how it is spent."
From this month, the government requires schools to publish online information about how they have used the premium.
The Ofsted report found that the most common use of the Pupil Premium funding was to pay for teaching assistants. Over two fifths of school leaders said they used the Pupil Premium to fund existing or new teaching assistants.
Proportionally this was higher in primary schools.
Ofsted said it will in future be “critical of schools that are not achieving well for their disadvantaged pupils, and will want to know how they are spending the pupil premium, how this is making a difference for their disadvantaged pupils, and how they are being held to account for this spending by their governors”.