Exclusive: Headteachers call for end to pupil premium amid plans for funding overhaul

Kaye Wiggins

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Headteachers are urging the government to end the pupil premium in its current form as part of a major overhaul of school funding, TES can reveal. 

Leaders of the Association of School and College Leaders have put the proposal – part of plans to respond to the financial “cliff edge” faced by some schools – to Department for Education ministers and officials. 

In a meeting with Sam Gyimah, the DfE minister responsible for introducing a new “national fair-funding formula” for schools, the headteachers are understood to have said that combining the £2.5 billion pupil premium budget with the overall £40.1 billion schools budget is the only way to create a fair formula. 

The ASCL believes the move would help schools at serious risk of “hitting the financial buffers” in the next few years. It acknowledges that combining budgets would be likely to lead to funding cuts for schools in deprived areas.

Allan Foulds, head of Bournside School in Cheltenham, who became ASCL president this month, told TES that the overhaul was necessary because some schools were in a desperate financial situation.

“Heads and governors feel they’re sailing the Titanic and the iceberg is very close indeed,” Mr Foulds said.

Insiders have suggested that the move could also be motivated by a desire to protect pupil premium funding, because separate funding streams are seen as being more vulnerable to cuts than the overall schools budget. Bringing the funds together could “secure” the cash, one expert suggested. 

But former ASCL general secretary John Dunford, who until last month was the government’s national pupil premium champion, has voiced strong opposition to the idea. 

“It’s unquestionable that you need a fair-funding formula, but I think you would lose more than you would gain if you absorbed the pupil premium into the general grant,” he said. 

To read the full story, get the 18 September edition of TES on your tablet or phone, or by downloading the TES Reader app for Android or iOS. Or pick it up at all good newsagents

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Kaye Wiggins

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