Exclusive: Less than half of teachers believe pupil premium has worked, YouGov poll finds

Less than half of teachers believe the government’s flagship pupil premium policy has had a positive impact on the disadvantaged children it is designed to help, according to an exclusive YouGov poll for TES.

The findings raise major questions about the way the £2.5 billion funding – targeted at students from poorer backgrounds – has been spent. The results of the poll come in the same week that chancellor George Osborne announced the policy would continue, against a background of further spending cuts.

The YouGov survey finds that a third (34 per cent) of teachers think the pupil premium has had “no effect at all on outcomes” for their most deprived pupils. A further 4 per cent believe the premium has actually had a negative impact on disadvantaged students.

A representative sample of 758 teachers was questioned for the poll last month. Just 43 per cent said the policy has had a positive effect, while 19 per cent said they did not know.

Experts have described the findings as “worrying” and are concerned that too many schools are using pupil premium funds in ineffective ways – for example, reducing class sizes despite only limited evidence that this improves the results of deprived pupils.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The pupil premium is providing vital support to disadvantaged children and helping to ensure every child, regardless of their background, is given the opportunity to fulfil their potential. The Public Accounts Committee found that, since [the premium’s] introduction, the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has fallen at primary and secondary level.”

This is an edited version of a story in the 27 November edition of TES. Read the full version with analysis and comment here (article available free to subscribers). Read the digital edition of TES on your tablet or phone by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents.

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