Teaching union Voice has questioned the way in which the pupil premium is targeted and complained that money is being recycled rather than increased.
Senior Professional Officer (Education) Ian Toone said: “The problem with the Pupil Premium is that it is redistributed, rather than new money. It is money that was taken out of the system and put back in again, and this explains why some schools aren’t targeting this funding specifically in the way it was intended to be used.
“For the Pupil Premium to be effective, it needs to be additional money, not recycled funding."
A new Ofsted report published today found that 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”.
The Ofsted report found that the most common use of the pupil premium funding was to pay for teaching assistants, with over two fifths of school leaders saying that they used the Premium to fund existing or new teaching assistants.
Mr Toone said there many pupils eligible for school meals whose parents don’t claim.
“There was controversy last year about head teachers encouraging low-income parents to sign up their children for free school meals – even if they didn’t eat them – in order to trigger pupil premium payments," he said.
“However, the pupil premium is money that is intended to assist in the education of certain children. The school is going to be judged on its performance in dealing with those children. It is not the school’s fault that parents have not chosen to register pupils for FSM even when they are eligible.
“It is in the pupils’ interest that their schools should have that money in order to put more resources into their education. Whilst schools should not have to ask parents to register their children for FMS, it is perfectly understandable and logical that they should do so.”
From this month, the government requires schools to publish online information about how they have used the premium.