UK & World News
Schools Told To Use Pupil Premium Properly
Schools offered a chunk of £1.25bn in funding from the Government have been told they must be able to show how the money is helping children from poor backgrounds.
Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted chief inspector, said finding ways of spending the "pupil premium" to boost the achievements of disadvantaged youngsters was not "rocket science".
Ofsted has been surprised to find that half of schools in a survey reported that the money had made little difference to how they are managed and operated, he said.
Only 10% of schools said it was having a "significant" effect - all of which were in the most deprived areas.
Sir Michael said: "The big issue is that this money is for our poorest children to ensure that they achieve as well as others who come from more privileged backgrounds, it is simply not good enough for heads of schools to say that it is not changing policy.
"If this money is going to the main school budget and children from poor backgrounds are doing well, we do not have an issue with that and I'm sure that Government won't, that is not a problem as long as they can demonstrate that is happening.
"It will be an issue if it just falls into the main school budget and a school can't show that it is improving the outcomes for poor children."
He added: "This is not rocket science stuff.
"There is a wealth of good practice out there in terms of how you raise achievement and how you raise achievement particularly of youngsters from poor backgrounds."
The money should be put towards teachers who are effective at teaching children from poor backgrounds, he said, and other initiatives such as extra classes.
The pupil premium was introduced in April last year.
This academic year, schools were allocated a total of £1.25bn for children from low-income families who were eligible for free school meals and those from families with parents in the Armed Forces.
The Department of Education said schools were given freedom over how to use the money, but agreed with Ofsted that schools needed to use it properly.
Chris Keates, general secretary of teaching union the NASUWT, said the pupil premium should be ring-fenced with close scrutiny of how it is spent.
"The pupil premium was never, despite claims to the contrary by ministers, 'new' money for schools," she said.
"The fact that it was introduced at a time of savage cuts to the education budget and it was left to the discretion of schools on how to spend it has resulted in the premium being simply swallowed up in schools' budgets."