Schools that have made a real difference to the lives of disadvantaged pupils will be rewarded as part of an annual competition.
These schools are eligible to apply for the national awards that celebrate schools making the best use of pupil premium money.
The awards, which are sponsored by TES, will be presented by contemporary artist Tracey Emin at a ceremony in May. Internationally-respected education expert Andreas Schleicher, the director for education and skills at the OECD, will chair the high-profile panel of judges.
Last year, Ark Charter Academy, a Portsmouth secondary, was named the Pupil Premium National Winner after running a longer school day to help struggling pupils – including study groups on mathematics and literacy.
The school, which had 82 per cent of their disadvantaged pupils achieve five or more A* to Cs (including English and maths) in 2014, also offers sailing, boxing classes and subsidised trips with the pupil premium funding.
Applications for the national awards open today for key stage 1, key stage 2, key stage 3, special schools and alternative provision.
Launching the awards, education and childcare minister Sam Gyimah praised the efforts of schools across the country to combat disadvantage: He said: “Education is our biggest tool for extending opportunity, and we know many schools are doing an excellent job of boosting aspiration and tackling disadvantage. I want to thank them for all their efforts.
“I am delighted that figures show the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their classmates has fallen at both primary and secondary level – but there is still more to do. That is why I am calling on schools to ensure all their pupils can access and benefit from wider cultural activities and experiences that will help raise aspirations and build character.”
The pupil premium – worth £2.5 billion this year – has enabled schools across the country to provide vital support to some of the most vulnerable children in their care.