Schools are using pupil-premium funding to offset budget cuts, poll finds

An increasing number of schools are using their funding for disadvantaged pupils to pay for essentials elsewhere, a new poll has found.

The survey of 1,607 teachers reveals that 6 per cent of teachers reported this as the main priority for their school’s pupil-premium spending, an increase of 300 per cent since last year, when the figure was two per cent.

The study also reveals that teachers are increasingly using research to inform how they spend money allocated to the poorest pupils.

The poll, conducted by the Sutton Trust charity and the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF), found that the most common priority for spending, identified by 28 per cent of teachers, was early-intervention schemes. Thirteen per cent chose to spend it on one-to-one tuition for disadvantaged pupils, while 10 per cent used it to pay for additional teaching assistants.

The research also revealed that one in five teachers did not know what the main priority for their pupil premium funding was.

The pupil premium was introduced in April 2011, and is intended to provide additional funding for disadvantaged pupils. The amount offered is currently £1,320 per primary pupil, and £935 per secondary pupil.

Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and the EEF, said that he was concerned by this finding. “The pupil premium is a key lever for raising the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, and it’s vital that it continues to be focused on their education,” he said.

The polling also highlighted the increasing use of research evidence in the classroom. Almost two-thirds – 63 per cent – of secondary senior leaders said that they considered research evidence when considering which programmes to introduce to their schools.

Sir Kevan Collins, EEF chief executive, said: “Better use of research can help schools spend their resources in the most efficient ways, and make a real difference to outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.”

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