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Is the Pupil Premium reaching those who need it most?

22 October 2012

The effectiveness of the Pupil Premium is likely to face further scrutiny following the release of figures by the Department for Education (DfE) which show pupils eligible for free school meals were almost three times as likely to be “persistent absentees” than those who were not eligible (10.6% compared with 3.7% in the Autumn 2011 and Spring 2012 terms).

Children’s charity Barnados has urged schools “to do more to find the root causes for such a stark imbalance between the numbers of poor children missing valuable lesson time and their classmates.”

Studies show a high number of eligible pupils fail to claim free school meals due to the perceived stigma attached, resulting in schools missing out on a significant proportion of potential funds. This raises concerns over the effectiveness of the Pupil Premium in its current form. Arguably the criteria for eligibility should be changed to increase take up and any unclaimed funds should be put towards developing other strategies which can help disadvantaged children.

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Mark Blois

Mark Blois

Partner and Head of Education

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