Millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money set aside to boost standards among poor pupils is being wasted chasing targets and employing ineffective teaching assistants, according to Ofsted. This is from the Telegraph…
The watchdog warned that a “significant minority” of schools were still failing to spend the Coalition’s flagship pupil premium funding properly.
In a report, inspectors said that the cash – worth £2.5 billion per year by 2014/15 – was being used by many schools to narrow the gap between pupils from rich and poor families.
Some heads used it to employ more good teachers, stage booster classes in the three-Rs, target parents who are failing to keep children in line and even pay for lap-tops to enable deprived pupils to work at home.
But the study warned that too many schools were failing to prove that money was properly spent on programmes to improve results among poor children.
The worst schools often:
• Spent the money “indiscriminately” on employing more classroom assistants with little impact on standards;
• Focused on pupils on the cusp of hitting Government targets – gaining five C grades at GCSE – without going “beyond these expectations”, meaning bright pupils from working-class homes underachieved;
• Compared the performance of poor pupils to other disadvantaged children – rather than national standards for all pupils – resulting in schools “lowering expectations” for the target group;
• Failed to monitor the impact of schemes and did not have a clear audit trail to prove cash was well spent.
The report – based on inspections of 70 primaries and secondaries in England – also said some Government funded invested in summer classes for disadvantaged children would be better spent on helping them catch up in English and maths if they are behind when they start secondary school.
The conclusions follow a more comprehensive report into the pupil premium published by Ofsted in the autumn.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector, said it was clear that “more schools are now taking their responsibilities seriously when it comes to using the pupil premium money and our inspectors have found evidence of some very good practice in their recent visits”.
But he added: “Some schools still lack good enough systems for tracking the spending of the additional funding or for evaluating the effectiveness of measures they have put in place in terms of improving outcomes.
“We will continue to take an active interest in this issue in the coming months. Where we find funding isn’t being spent effectively on improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, we will be clear in our criticism.
“It is vital that schools get this right. Every child who leaves school without the right qualifications faces a far more difficult path to fulfilling their potential and finding employment.”
The pupil premium – repeatedly championed by the Liberal Democrats – has been seen as one of the Coalition’s most high-profile education reforms.
Schools currently receive £600 for each pupil eligible for free school meals. Ofsted found it was worth up to £134,323 in primary schools visited by inspectors and £296,501 in state secondaries.