Pupil premium: fears raised over fairness

30th July 2010 at 01:00

Plans to give poorer children additional funding under a "pupil premium" could lead to schools in the most deprived areas losing cash, observers have warned this week.

On Monday, the Department for Education unveiled its proposals to give children from more disadvantaged backgrounds more money.

The DfE will not spell out the size of the premium until after the comprehensive spending review in October. However, the consultation shows that the Government intends to bring all spending on disadvantaged pupils to the same level.

Fears have been raised that schools in local authorities with high levels of deprivation that already receive higher per-pupil funding, such as Liverpool or Tower Hamlets in east London, will receive a smaller pupil premium.

They will be hit harder if overall school spending is slashed as the DfE tries to meet its 10 to 20 per cent cuts as spelt out in last month's emergency Budget.

Malcolm Trobe, policy director at the Association of School and College Leaders, said: "There is a risk that these schools will suffer proportionally more.

"The difficulty is they are introducing a pupil premium into a system that is not equitable, which brings with it a number of risks.

"Schools which have been getting a lot of additional funding could end up with that money being taken away."

Shadow education secretary Ed Balls said any pupil premium that was introduced on top of a smaller overall schools budget would be "nothing short of a con".

But Education Secretary Michael Gove said the figure will be a "significant amount" that will come from outside the schools budget.

Meanwhile, the DfE stated in the same report that it will move forward with the early years single funding formula for all nursery schools in the country.

Purnima Tanuku, chief executive of the National Day Nurseries Association, said there were fears that it could lead to some nurseries being forced to close.

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