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LGA survey: £118m for disadvantaged pupils could be lost from school budgets this year

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A total of £118 million for disadvantaged pupils could be lost from school budgets in England this year due to a government change in how Pupil Premium funding is calculated, a new survey by the Local Government Association (@LGAcomms) reveals.

The LGA said councils stand ready to help the Government prioritise disadvantaged pupils in its education recovery plan and to prevent the attainment gap between disadvantaged children and young people and their peers from widening further as a result of the pandemic. It is urging the Government to ensure no school will lose out on vital Pupil Premium funding this year.

 Publicly funded schools in England get extra Pupil Premium funding from the Government to help them improve the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils. It amounts to £1,345 a year for every eligible primary age pupil, or £955 for every eligible secondary age pupil.

However, for the 2021/22 financial year this funding will be based on the October 2020 census of pupils instead of the January 2021 census.

As a result, schools with children who have become eligible for this funding – which pays for free school meals and academic support – during the pandemic will not receive any additional funding for another whole year.

An LGA survey of councils and analysis of government census figures shows that this change could result in:

  • a loss of Pupil Premium funding of around £93 million for primary schools and £25 million for secondary schools;
  • this equates to an average loss of around £600,000 in primary school Pupil Premium funding per local authority area.

Not only have schools reported significant increases in costs during COVID-19, they now face worrying funding reductions in Pupil Premium funding. The LGA said that by changing the date of Pupil Premium reporting, the Government can ensure that schools receive Pupil Premium funding for all eligible pupils this year.

Cllr Teresa Heritage, Vice Chairman of the LGA’s Children and Young People Board, said:

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“Councils and schools want to work with the Government on education recovery and share concerns about the needs of disadvantaged children who have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.

“There will be many schools with children who will have become eligible for Pupil Premium between October and January who will now not qualify for this extra funding for a whole year.

“Pupil Premium is vital to support the Government’s levelling up agenda and education recovery plans. It is imperative that the Government ensures that no school loses out in receiving this vital funding this year and that no child is left behind.”

Paul Whiteman 100x100Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“The government has made bold claims about their ambitions for recovery and said that no child will be left behind. But by implementing this pupil premium change in the middle of the pandemic the government has actively removed support for children who are most in need of help. The government is failing to back their words with action and is leaving schools without the funding and resources they need for the job ahead.

“A significant number of children have become eligible for help via pupil premium but they will now not receive any additional funding for another whole year. A recent NAHT survey showed that the amount of money lost is more than schools are being given for education recovery. The government is giving with one hand while knowingly taking away with the other. This must be put right. Government must come clean about how much they have saved with this change, and they must put that money back into school budgets immediately.

“The government can no longer ignore the concrete evidence that is coming through from councils, nor can they try to explain it away as a ‘technicality’. This is real money, affecting real children’s lives.”

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