Pupil Premium-Remind Me How Exactly It'll Help FSM Cohort?

Shane Rae's picture
While continuing to thump my 'Parents Step Up' drum, I thought I'd just raise this and see what people think.

To my mind, if they have identified (finally) that children from 'deprived' backgrounds do not achieve as they should to the extent that they feel that some funding must be ring-fenced to address the situation, how exactly does giving the money to the school even begin to address the situation?

It's not as if a school that has a high number of FSM kids is poorly resourced as a result of having an FSM cohort-so how does topping up the coffers of the school work in a targeted way for the benefit of these pupils?

Ok, so I'm stating the obvious here. If poorer children are not attaining in school how it is that this is somehow a 'problem' at the school that can be 'fixed' with additional funding?

Let's look closely at the probable causes for this FSM cohort not attaining as well as their better-off peers. I would hazard a short (by no means comprehensive list):

1. Parents possibly illiterate/innumerate- can't support child's education
2. Parents forced to work/keep antisocial hours-can't support child's education
3. social problems connected to poverty have overarching effects on homelife-can't support child's education
4. Parents unable to afford extra support materials/tutoring-can't support child's education
5. Poverty such a focus on home life that education is a remote priority-can't support child's education


I'm not trying to play any blame game here, I'm trying to illustrate that the barrier to attainment that most of these young people are facing is at home.

Remind me how giving money to the SCHOOL will help address the root cause of the failure of the FSM cohort to show attainment equal to those 'better off'?

Of course I am absolutely all for schools getting more funding for any reason! But I think it's a very cynical move on Gove's part to cut overall funding to schools and 'give back' a token amount to 'help those most needy'.

Either he thinks we're all hellishly naive, or HE is, or both!
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Fiona Millar's picture
Fri, 04/03/2011 - 18:09

Much of what you say is right Shane.Problems often start in the home, and in the early years, so investment in that sector is crucial.
However schools can use resources to build good home school links and improve parental literacy and numeracy. The problem with the pupil premium is that it is not new money so is simply filling gaps in school budgets left by the real terms cut imposed for the next financial year.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Fri, 04/03/2011 - 18:22

I just came back today with a meeting with Save the Children about the Families and Schools Together (FAST) programme, which aims to deal with these problems. FAST really does help: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/en/fast.htm

Shane Rae's picture
Fri, 04/03/2011 - 18:37

Fiona it's your last sentence that addresses my point best. The whole PP thing is just smoke and mirrors around the taking with one hand and returning with the other. 'Look at this NEW money we are so kindly giving that must be spent on the very neediest!'

Sarah Dobbs's picture
Fri, 04/03/2011 - 20:15

And what about a school like mine? I work as a 1-1 tutor in a local school. I adore my work and it has been a joy to see how the kids have come on with the extra support. But the school has a fairly low number of FSM. The pupil premium will nowhere near be enough to keep the scheme going. It is a tragedy for the kids who need the help. And after 16 years of teaching, I am having to leave and register as a child minder .....there just are not the teaching jobs around here and everyone just wants NQTs. To say that children needing this kind of help are always FSM is a total nonsense. Many kids in more middle class areas are going to fall through the cracks as schools can longer afford the 1-1. The pupil premium is a total , total joke.

Francis Gilbert's picture
Fri, 04/03/2011 - 20:39

This is a very interesting point Sarah. FAST is aimed at children and parents from ALL backgrounds: it's universal. Perhaps worth investigating for your school? Check out the website if you're interested.

Sarah Dobbs's picture
Sat, 05/03/2011 - 07:12

Thank you Francis - I certianly will share this with my head.

Shane Rae's picture
Sat, 05/03/2011 - 11:30

Unfortunately, directing extra funding towards struggling learners would are not from disadvantaged backgrounds holds no political value for Gove.

I know voucher schemes don't have the best reputation by why couldn't they have given the money to families in this form and allow them to spend them on things like notebooks, booster materials, broadband etc? It would instantly draw parents and children together. Parents would have to investigate the situation and and would be empowered to help.

Ok, maybe not the perfect solution but it's the sort of scheme that would actually address the relation between poverty and education.

Clara Klat's picture
Tue, 02/10/2012 - 17:44

Bit late to this thread but...
I'm a parent governor at my local school- Addison Primary in West London. The Pupil Premium has made a huge difference to our pupils, narrowing the gap in attainment levels. 40% of our children are on FSM. We have been able to spend the Pupil Premium on materials and the extra support teachers that really make a difference.
As you can read on our website "During 2011, the achievement gap at the nationally expected level for Primary age pupils narrowed from 20 percentage points in 2011 to just 4 for our Year 6 leavers in 2012. "
In my opinion Pupil Premium is one of the few good things Michael Gove is associated with..

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