TES is reporting that headteachers are calling for children living in poverty to be automatically registered for pupil premium funds, warning that schools are missing out on cash to support vulnerable pupils because parents do not always declare that their child is eligible.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said today that the reform would “put a serious dent in social inequality”.
“The pupil premium has become a vital and well understood tool for narrowing the gap for children from families with lower incomes,” he said. “But the burden is on parents to come forward to register and for schools to coax families into admitting they need help.”
Mr Hobby said government figures showed that an average of 11 per cent of eligible children were missing out on pupil premium funds, with the figure rising to 30 per cent in some parts of the country.
The NAHT leader said schools were spending millions of pounds on food, clothes and extra support for pupils living in poverty. This was pushing some schools’ budgets “beyond breaking point”, he added.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We are determined to deliver educational excellence everywhere, raising the bar for all, so every child – regardless of background – reaches their potential. The pupil premium is a key part of this and we have already provided over £8.5 billion of additional funding for disadvantaged pupils, with a further £2.5 billion being invested this year. We want to make sure that pupils get the support they are entitled to, which is why we have issued guidance to help schools determine which children are eligible for free school meals and the pupil premium.”
How can the pupil premium system be reformed for the better? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Nellie
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