THE PUPIL PREMIUM AND SPECIAL SCHOOLS
A range of policies, for example the introduction of the Pupil Premium, SEN reforms, and the expansion of the academies programme have a particular focus on those pupils left behind currently. The well-known attainment gap at GCSE level is between those who receive free school meals and those who do not—36% of pupils in receipt of free school meals achieved five or more A* to C grades at GCSE, compared with 63% of all other pupils.
The pupil premium is allocated for pupils who are currently eligible or who have been eligible in the past six years for free school meals, children who have been continuously looked after for at least six months, and children whose parents are serving in the Armed Forces. In the financial year 2012-13, the pupil premium was allocated at a rate of £623 per pupil and the service child premium was allocated at a rate of £250 per pupil. The pupil premium will increase to £900 per pupil and the service child premium will increase to £300 per pupil in the 2013-14 financial year. That said there are still significant numbers of children living in poverty who are simply not picked up by the free school meals measure, and therefore they and their schools lose out on the valuable support that the pupil premium could give to them.
But what about what about Special schools and PRU pupils?
Lord Nash, replying to a PQ on 10 April, said ‘Pupil premium grant is allocated to each local authority in respect of eligible pupils in maintained special schools, pupil referral units (PRUs) and alternative provision (ie attending schools not maintained by the authority for which the authority is paying full tuition fees, plus all pupils educated otherwise than in schools under arrangements made by the authority).Pupil premium grant in respect of pupils in these settings can be allocated to the setting where the child is being educated or held by the local authority to spend specifically on additional education support to raise the pupil’s standard of attainment.’
In its report “Fair and Square,” the Children’s Society found that some 700,000 children living in poverty are not entitled to receive free school meals, in the majority of cases simply because their parents are working. As six in 10 children in poverty live in working families, some believe there is an urgent need to address the situation of those children who do not happen to qualify for free school meals yet grow up in circumstances just as grim as many who do.