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Teachers in the dark over pupil premium cash, union claims

Most teachers do not know how their school is spending money from the government’s pupil premium fund, a teaching union has claimed.

Research by the NASUWT union, published to mark the opening of its annual conference in Cardiff today, found that 56 per cent of almost 2,000 respondents did not know how their school was spending additional funds.

The money, worth £2.5 billion nationally this year, is targeted at pupils from deprived backgrounds who are eligible for free school meals.

The union claims that despite being unaware of any additional support for these pupils, many teachers were given specific targets to improve their attainment.    

Thirty-six per cent of teachers said their own performance management criteria included data-related targets for pupils who attracted pupil premium funding. Some 55 per cent said they had been given specific targets for pupil premium pupils, but were not given strategic support for these pupils.

One respondent said: “We are being reviewed and assessed on student progress for [the] pupil premium with no additional support.”

Several respondents said they were concerned about the way in which their schools spent pupil premium money.

“Our pupil premium is spent on making the school look nice,” one teacher said, adding that this included “decorating [the] library, painting corridors [and] extending [the] school entrance rather than employing staff and buying resources that would benefit the needs of the children.”

Another said: “Our senior management does not have a clear-cut policy and I fear that pupil premium funding is being used to prop up school funds.”

Another respondent said students attracting pupil premium funds had their school trips paid for. This was confusing for students who did not qualify for the pupil premium but whose parents could still not afford trips, they said.

Several said they did not believe teachers were sufficiently involved in decisions about how the funding should be spent. 

Related stories:

Pupil premium has 'failed to close attainment gap', thinktank claims – 4 February, 2015 

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