Schools to compete for £10,000 pupil premium award

Neil Puffett
Monday, May 14, 2012

Schools will be asked to compete to find the best ways of spending the pupil premium, with those using the money most effectively winning £10,000, Deputy Prime minister Nick Clegg has said.

The pupil premium will be worth £2.5bn a year by 2015. Image: Crown copyright
The pupil premium will be worth £2.5bn a year by 2015. Image: Crown copyright

The cash award will be given to the 50 schools making the best use of the pupil premium, which is worth £600 per child this year - £1.25bn in total.

Clegg argued that every aspiring new teacher should see working with disadvantaged children as “a crucial step to the top”.

He added that the School Teachers Review Body would look at giving schools the flexibility to use pay to hold onto the best teachers, giving excellent teachers incentive to work in challenging schools.

But while schools are free to use the pupil premium however they see fit, Clegg warned that they will be held accountable for what they achieve.

“Schools cannot just absorb this money and spend it on other things,” he said. “We are putting a lot of government muscle behind making sure this investment gets results.”

Ofsted will look “forensically” at how well pupils in receipt of the pupil premium do, with a survey due to be published early next year. 

“The message should be clear,” he said. “If a school’s pupil premium population are failing – more often than not – the whole school will be judged to be failing.

“At that point, the inspections will become more frequent and Ofsted will take a much closer interest in how that school’s pupil premium is spent.”

Teaching unions and Labour have said the pupil premium is being used to plug gaps caused by cuts.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), said: “[The pupil premium] is a redistribution of funds within the system not additional funding. The most powerful force in education is high quality teaching. 

“The government urgently needs a strategy to reverse the damage inflicted on morale and to celebrate those who teach and lead in the most challenging schools. Otherwise, the benefits of the pupil premium will never materialise.”

Martin Johnson, deputy general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), added: “The coalition government's austerity policies, with its attack on the jobs, pay and conditions and benefits of the less well-off, are increasing the [achievement] gap.

“The real answer to the achievement gap lies in new economic, industrial and regional policies, not in education policies based on dodgy stats and cheap gimmicks.”

Stephen Twigg, Labour's shadow education secretary, said this government has cut education spending by the biggest amount since the 1950s.

"More than half of headteachers say they will be forced to use the pupil premium to plug holes in their budget,” he said. "Free schools set up by this Government take far fewer pupils from deprived background than average.

"And half of the education capital spend in the Spending Review is being spent on pet projects, rather than real need.

"With a million young people unemployed and families with children paying more than double what the banks are paying to reduce the deficit, the public will not be fooled by Clegg's desperate attempt to pretend this government is fair."

 

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