Guerrillamum's Blog


How will the Pupil Premium be funded, and how will it impact on Education?

I am very concerned that the funding for the Pupil Premium will be found by cutting support staff. Please see ‘Four out of five education authorities will shed staff’ – http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/four-out-of-five-education-authorities-will-shed-staff-2109411.html

There are all sorts of children who benefit from being able to have learning opportunities with support staff and this will impact immediately on levels of achievement across the board. However, children with special educational needs rely on support staff to have their needs met in school.

I quote:
‘This will threaten the extra support staff drafted in to help with teaching numeracy and literacy ….. ‘

If we lose extra support staff in schools, this will have an immediate impact on all children, but especially on those children with special educational needs who do not have statements.

I don’t yet know what the spending review will bring for schools but the rumblings I am hearing are not good. Last week the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) reassured us all by saying that new money had been found to fund the pupil premium. In last Friday’s Guardian a ‘senior no 10 aide’ was quoted as saying: “The money for this will come from outside the education budget. We’re not just rearranging furniture – this is real new money from elsewhere in Whitehall.” On Friday the DPM repeatedly said that the funds for the Pupil Premium were ‘additional’ saying that he wanted the money to come mainly from outside the education department, rather than simply from outside the school’s budget or by cutting ‘non – essential’ education projects such as after school clubs and youth groups. ‘Mainly from outside the education department? Already this is a little different from what the ‘senior Whitehall aide’ is quoted as saying. Also, we know from the Guardian that the DPM’s plans to fund the Pupil Premium from sources outside the education department are being opposed by Treasury officials who believe that the funding should come from within education funding. However, the Deputy Prime Minister said the Pupil Premium would come from new money so I expect the DPM to make good on this commitment.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies is not optimistic about the eventual effect of the Pupil Premium: Last Friday’s Guardian also said ‘The Institute for Fiscal Studies had a gloomy first take on the proposal. While it praised the policy as “broadly progressive”, it had concerns about its effect: “Given the scale of the cuts in departmental spending to be announced next Wednesday, it seems likely that overall school funding will be cut in real terms,” said a spokesman for the institute. “If such cuts are shared equally across schools, then the pupil premium could (depending on its final size, and on the cuts to the overall budget) lead to a net result where schools in affluent areas see their funding go up on average, while schools in deprived areas experience cuts in funding.”

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Does the free schools and academies rhetoric make life easier for special needs and deprived children?

I agree totally with this article, and for me, Cameron’s response to the idea of sending his children to a local comprehensive school said it all. Not only that, there was recently a move by the Telegraph in it’s article by Rosa Prince ‘Sharp rise in number of special needs pupils’ to link low achievement in children with bad behaviour rather than any special educational need they might have. She speculates that these badly behaved children are being over labelled with an SEN in order to enable their schools to improve their standing in the league tables, and parents to cherry pick the best schools! See Rosa Prince’s article.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7904999/Sharp-rise-in-number-of-special-needs-pupils.html

Children from poorer families are umuch less likely to have parents with the time and energy and confidence to get involved with a Free School, and will be left on the sidelines with the ‘undesirable schools’. Not only that, there is no ring fencing of the pupil premium and it looks increasingly likely that this money might not actually reach the children for whom it is intended. Unfortunately, if state schools under local authority control have to compete with free schools and academies for funding these schools will be much less able to improve. Their funding will be reduced because they will have to share it with any new academies or free schools that might have been set up in their area.

I still haven’t figured out why the government can’t simply put this vast amount of money into improving the schools we already have, for the benefit of all children.

I always try not to be too political.  So here’s a comment to try to balance things up.  With the honourable exception of Ed Balls we haven’t heard much about Education from the other four Labour leadership contenders.  Of course, the economy dominates the headlines but here’s a challenge:  rather than concentrate on what mistakes have or have not been made in running the economy, lets deal with the future of our country.  Education is fundamental to all of our futures and I believe that equipping ALL of OUR children with the skills and abilities to be successful and  economically/financially independent to their full potential is vital.  Schools are also the nursery for successful social cohesion and any educational system which is not based on equality of opportunity is simply storing up social problems for the future.



No ring fencing of ‘Pupil Premium’ – Daily Telegraph 27th July 2010
July 29, 2010, 9:25 am
Filed under: Education and the new government | Tags: ,

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/7910538/Schools-to-receive-pupil-premium-for-teaching-poorest-children.html

The Pupil Premium – money that will be paid to academies for each disadvantaged child that they teach, has been widely criticized because there is no way of ring fencing it to ensure it reaches the children it is intended for.

This is indicative of the lack of thought and planning that has accompanied the academies bill from its inception to being made law today.

There is no real detail to direct how these very considerable payments from the public purse will be managed.  Good idea, but how will it work?