Local authorities’ receive ministerial warning on disadvantaged
The present Government cites ‘Raising the achievement of disadvantaged children’ as one of ten schools policies it is pursuing. The policy description describes the issue thus:
‘Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are far less likely to get good GCSE results. Attainment statistics published in January 2014 show that in 2013 37.9% of pupils who qualified for free school meals got 5 GCSEs, including English and mathematics at A* to C, compared with 64.6% of pupils who do not qualify.
We believe it is unacceptable for children’s success to be determined by their social circumstances. We intend to raise levels of achievement for all disadvantaged pupils and to close the gap between disadvantaged children and their peers.’
The main, though not exclusive, policy lever for addressing the challenge presented by disadvantaged pupils, is the Pupil Premium ,extra funding given to schools based on the number of FSM pupils. Within the autonomous schools system it is up to schools to decide how this money is spent, amid some concerns that it is not always used to support interventions that are evidence based.
Local authorities complain that although they have a responsibility for school improvement ,within the autonomous system they have limited resources, information and levers to support schools that need improving.
Nonetheless, David Laws, the schools minister, wrote to 87 local authorities in March and April 2014, raising his concerns about the 2013 examination results of disadvantaged pupils in particular maintained schools within their areas, and asking them to support those schools’ improvement. The recipient list and criteria are below and will be published on GOV.UK shortly.
Letters were sent to local authorities where ministerial letters had been sent in the spring to a small number of maintained schools expressing concern about the progress of disadvantaged pupils at key stage 2, and the progress and/or overall attainment of disadvantaged pupils at key stage 4. Letters were also sent to local authorities where the average GCSE results of disadvantaged pupils across all of their maintained schools declined between 2011 and 2013 or between 2012 and 2013.
Local authorities in receipt of letters:
Barking and Dagenham
Bath & NE Somerset
Blackburn with Darwen
Hammersmith & Fulham
Isle of Wight
Richmond upon Thames
Stoke on Trent
Ps I was at a lecture the other day on social mobility and a teacher in a London academy told us that his school was using the Pupil Premium in innovative ways,. One example he offered was buying , alarm clocks for all FSM pupils. Presumably none of his pupils had access to mobiles. The PP is supposed to be used for interventions that are known to be effective. I have scanned the EEF Toolkit and am not entirely surprised to find nothing on the effective use of alarm clocks to secure better outcomes for pupils. Schools have to be careful how they use this extra funding because they will be held accountable.