The pupil premium should be turned into a 'social mobility premium' that schools could spend on teacher recruitment, CPD and mentoring, MPs have said.
It is among a string of recommendations outlined in a report, Closing the Regional Attainment Gap, published by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Social Mobility today.
The MPs say school funding can make a “significant difference” to the achievement of disadvantaged pupils, and add that austerity-related policies have had an impact on social mobility, with cuts to support services having an impact on teachers.
The report adds: “In deprived areas, problems with pupils’ home life frequently spill into the classroom, putting pressure on teachers.”
Poverty: Pupil premium 'failing to target the poor'
Opinion: Pupil premium does not work
Opinion: We must hold our nerve on the pupil premium
However, it also questions whether schools are using their funding effectively, citing “particular issues around spending of the pupil premium”.
It recommends: “The government should incentivise school collaboration by repurposing the pupil premium into a new social mobility premium which schools and senior leaders can use on initiatives to improve social mobility in deprived schools and coldspot areas.
“For example, this could be used on teacher recruitment and retention in specific subject shortage areas, CPD for teachers, mentoring and peer to peer support.”
Other key recommendations include:
- Local authorities in social mobility cold spots should get extra funding to coordinate school improvement and help schools work with one another;
- In order to be rated as 'outstanding', schools must highlight that they are collaborating with other schools in the local area;
- All universities should more rigorously evaluate their outreach activities to ensure the funding that they are provided with is being spent on evidence-based interventions;
- The government should deliver on its proposals to reduce teacher stress and workload, particularly in more challenging schools. It should increase capacity for teachers to access wellbeing services, and have a more flexible pay scale;
- The government should offer a more generous financial incentive and a strong offer of CPD to encourage teachers to work in social mobility cold spots;
- The government should move towards giving early years teachers Qualified Teacher Status, with the increase in pay, conditions and status this would entail, and invest in improving qualifications for all practitioners in the sector;
- The government “should fully implement its careers strategy in order to ensure that young people have the resources that they need to make informed choices about their futures”;
- Local Enterprise Partnerships “should help businesses to identify skills gaps and support businesses to work with local schools to ensure that students have the right skills to help them enter the workforce”;
- Schools should fully evaluate programmes to raise attainment and use the work of the Education Endowment Foundation to ensure they use evidence-based initiatives where possible.
Education secretary Damian Hinds said social mobility is "ultimately why I’m in politics".
He highlighted new initiatives launched this week to help families with the child's learning before they start school, as well as spending on the pupil premium, opportunity areas and Opportunity North East.
He added: “But we must not be complacent, which is why we have set 10 year ambition to halve the proportion of children who finish reception year without the communication and reading skills needed to thrive - I want to continue to support families to propel their children’s learning so they can go on to reach their full potential, whatever their background.”