Exclusive: Pupil premium funding failing to benefit the disadvantaged, union warns

The majority of teachers do not know how their school is spending the government’s pupil premium funding, new research has revealed.

A survey from the NASUWT teaching union, of more than 2,600 members in England, found that 53 per cent was unaware of how their school spent the additional funds.

The pupil premium – worth £2.5 billion this year – is given to schools across the country to provide support to disadvantaged pupils.

But the union says its research shows that the additional funding has not found its way to the classroom in many cases. Yet nearly two-thirds of teachers (65 per cent) responding to the survey said they were required to track, monitor and report on the progress of pupils eligible for the funds.

The findings, shared exclusively with TES to mark the opening of the NASUWT annual conference in Birmingham today, reveal that 37 per cent of teachers said data-related targets for pupils who attracted pupil premium funding were imposed as performance management objectives.

Some 56 per cent said they had been given specific targets for pupil premium pupils, but were not given strategic support for these pupils.

The survey also revealed that 59 per cent of teachers believe pupil premium strategies create extra workload for them.

One respondent said: “We have to query a database to collect our own class data on PP students. This time is taking us away from lesson planning and marking. Workload currently on data collection is massive.

“Paperwork at present is strangling me and I’m seriously considering quitting and going back to the chemical industry.”

Several respondents said they were concerned about where the money allocated for the pupil premium ended up.

One said: “Although we can bid for funding, the amount we get in relation to the extra resources we are expected to provide is minimal and I couldn’t honestly tell you where the school spends the majority of the extra funding.”

Another said: “This cohort does not receive adequate attention and money is more often spent on uniform than supporting their academic or emotional needs.”

Chris Keates, NASUWT general secretary , said: “It is clear that there is still a profound lack of transparency about how the pupil premium is being allocated within schools.

“It is also clear that many of the teachers who are working daily with the pupils eligible for the funding cannot see any evidence of extra resource in the classroom or how the funding is being used to support their work or the pupils.”

The union leader added: “The pupil premium has the potential to make a real difference to the most disadvantaged pupils, but it is clear that far too many have yet to reap any benefit from this funding. If real progress is to be made in closing the achievement gap for the most disadvantaged pupils, then those actually teaching the pupils need to be consulted on its use.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “The Pupil Premium – worth £2.5bn this year – is helping the most disadvantaged pupils and closing the attainment gap at both primary and secondary level.

“As we set out in the White Paper, we are taking further action to improve the effectiveness of pupil premium spending by helping schools to set out the rationale for their spending and how the impact will be measured.

“Schools will continue to be held to account for using the pupil premium effectively through performance tables and Ofsted inspection.”

From September, maintained schools will be required to publish their pupil premium strategy on their website, in place of the current requirement to publish a pupil premium statement.

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