Teachers call for funding weighted towards pupils in poorer areas

A survey of 7,000 teachers found the majority said more pupil premium funding would make a difference to poorer children’s achievement.

10 February 2022

Almost three-quarters of teachers have said extra funding should be weighted towards schools serving poorer areas.

A poll of more than 7,000 teachers found 74% said the Government should invest extra funding in all schools as part of its levelling-up agenda, but that it should weight this towards schools serving disadvantaged areas.

For teachers in the most deprived schools, this figure rose to 87%, the survey carried out by Teacher Tapp on behalf of charity Teach First showed.

The research also found that nearly seven in 10 – 69% – of teachers in state schools felt that more pupil premium funding would improve education outcomes for poorer children.

A report by Teach First, published on Thursday, calls on the Government to create a new pupil premium category for children trapped in long-term poverty – those who are eligible for free school meals for 80% of their education or more.

It adds that current pupil premium levels should be restored to 2015-2016 levels in real terms.

The report says that the pupil premium for early years pupils should be aligned with the rate for primary school children.

The poll found that 71% of primary school teachers believe that youngsters starting Reception are not as “school ready” as they have been in previous years.

Teach First said that boosting the pupil premium for the youngest pupils would help the Government achieve its targets on literacy, “since early spoken language skills are the most significant predictor of literacy skills at age 11”.

It said that just over £1 billion out of £4.7 billion of additional Government funding for schools should go towards boosting the pupil premium for early years children, raising current pupil premium levels across the board, giving pupils living in long-term poverty 50% extra pupil premium funding and expanding the pupil premium to include students aged 16 to 19.

The survey found that 60% of teachers support including 16 to 19-year-olds in pupil premium funding.

Teach First chief executive Russell Hobby said: “Inequality remains a significant feature of our education system – disadvantaged pupils simply do not get the same opportunity to succeed as their wealthier peers.

“This has been the case for many years, but it has been exacerbated by the pandemic. Unless we act quickly to repair the damage, widened inequality will be built in for generations to come.”

He added: “We can’t level up our country until we level up our education system.

“We believe our proposals to increase and expand the pupil premium would make a lasting impact on the futures of millions of young people, giving targeted support to ensure we can give them the best possible chance to succeed.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union the NAHT, said: “It’s only right that those children and young people who need the most support receive it.

“This report shines a spotlight on how the value of pupil premium funding for disadvantaged pupils has been eroded over a number of years.

“Recent minor uplifts have not gone far enough in undoing those real-terms cuts. We fully support the calls for the value of pupil premium funding to be restored.

“We also fully support the recommendation that the early years pupil premium should be increased. It is widely agreed that early intervention is essential when it comes to having a positive long-term impact on pupil outcomes, it therefore makes no sense for the early years pupil premium to be only a fraction of the primary funding.”

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “Schools receive pupil premium funding to support disadvantaged pupils, which is increasing to more than £2.6 billion in 2022-23 – the highest cash terms rate since this funding began.

“We have also identified 55 new Education Investment Areas to receive targeted support where educational outcomes are weakest, helping children from all backgrounds succeed at the very highest levels.

“We are levelling up school funding, giving significant increases to every pupil in every school, and are helping pupils make up for learning lost during the pandemic through our ambitious recovery plan.

“Backed by £5 billion, we are rolling out high quality tutoring, world class training for teachers and early years practitioners, additional funding for schools, and extending time in colleges by 40 hours a year.”

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