Primary schools are to receive an extra £22.5 million to help close the gap between the poorest pupils and their wealthier classmates, it has been announced.
The increase in pupil premium funding for primaries would help teachers support disadvantaged children from the time they started school and stop them falling behind, schools minister David Laws said.
He revealed that the total available funding for 2015-16 would be protected in real terms, with just over £2.5 billion given to schools overall.
The extra funding means that primary schools will be given £1,320 for every child who has been registered for free school meals (FSM) in the past six years – known as "ever 6 FSM" pupils.
Secondaries will continue to receive £935 for each "ever 6 FSM" student, and all schools will still receive £1,900 for pupils who are in care. The £1,900 will also continue to go to children who have been adopted from care or left under a special guardianship or residence order.
Mr Laws said: "We know that schools are using their pupil premium funding more effectively than ever to raise the performance of those children who need extra help.
"We have already made significant progress towards closing the gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. This additional funding will ensure that teachers continue to have the resources they need to give all pupils the best possible start at school, regardless of their background."
Ian Bauckham, the past president of the Association for School and College Leaders and also a headteacher who chairs an academy trust working with primary schools, said that handing more money to primaries was the right way to tackle disadvantage.
"The earlier that schools can intervene, the greater the chance we have of reducing the effects of social inequality," Mr Bauckham said. "If children finish primary school without reaching a basic level of literacy and numeracy, they will struggle to access the secondary curriculum and will only fall further behind their peers as they get older."
He added: "The pupil premium has been a powerful lever in helping schools to tackle disadvantage."
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