Ofsted's report The Pupil Premium looks at how schools are using pupil premium funding to raise achievement and improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils:
"The survey found that many schools did not disaggregate the Pupil Premium from their main budget, and said that they were using the funding to maintain or enhance existing provision rather than to put in place new activity. Half of the schools surveyed said the pupil premium was making little or no difference to the way they work.
"The report also found that the most common use of the Pupil Premium funding was to pay for teaching assistants. Over two fifths of school leaders said they used the Pupil Premium to fund existing or new teaching assistants. Proportionally this was higher in primary schools.
"In future Ofsted will be critical of schools that are not achieving well for their disadvantaged pupils, and will want to know how they are spending the pupil premium, how this is making a difference for their disadvantaged pupils, and how they are being held to account for this spending by their governors."
Ian Toone, Voice’s Senior Professional Officer (Education), said:
"The problem with the Pupil Premium is that it is redistributed, rather than new, money. It is money that was taken out of the system and put back in again, and this explains why some schools aren't targeting this funding specifically in the way it was intended to be used.
"For the Pupil Premium to be effective, it needs to be additional money, not recycled funding.
"Ofsted's report found that the most common use of the Pupil Premium funding was to pay for teaching assistants, with over two fifths of school leaders saying that they used the Premium to fund existing or new teaching assistants.
"What is wrong with investing in staff who will be able to support pupils in their learning?
"Can you blame head teachers who have had their budgets cut for trying to make ends meet for the benefit of their school and all its pupils?
"The premium is for children eligible for free school meals and pupils in care. There are many pupils eligible for school meals whose parents don't claim. If more claimed, the schools would have more Pupil Premium funding.
"There was controversy last year about head teachers encouraging low-income parents to sign up their children for free school meals even if they didn't eat them in order to trigger pupil premium payments.
"However, the pupil premium is money that is intended to assist in the education of certain children. The school is going to be judged on its performance in dealing with those children. It is not the school's fault that parents have not chosen to register pupils for FSM even when they are eligible.
"It is in the pupils' interest that their schools should have that money in order to put more resources into their education. Whilst schools should not have to ask parents to register their children for FMS, it is perfectly understandable and logical that they should do so."
Voice has raised its concerns about the limitations of the pupil premium before, particularly the idea of schools "competing" for funds.
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