Public Accounts Committee

Funding for disadvantaged pupils inquiry

Inquiry status: Concluded

Report published 9 October 2015. Government response published 16 December 2015.

Scope of the inquiry

The Department for Education aims to improve the quality of education for all. It also aims to raise disadvantaged pupils’ attainment and reduce the gap between them and others. In 2011, the Department announced new funding for schools, the Pupil Premium, which specifically aims to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.

Worth £2.5 billion in 2014-15, the Pupil Premium is distributed to schools by the Department according to their number of disadvantaged pupils between the ages of 5 and 16. The Department expects schools to use the funding to support disadvantaged pupils to achieve more but schools can decide how to spend it. The attainment gap between disadvantaged and other pupils narrowed by 4.7 percentage points in primary schools and 1.6 percentage points in secondary schools between 2011 and 2014, but no clear trend has been established and the gap remains wide.

The National Audit Office report raised concerns regarding the identification of disadvantaged pupils, particularly with the introduction of Universal Infant Free School Meals and Universal Credit. Ofsted has expressed concern about provision for disadvantaged pupils in 8% of primary schools and 21% of secondary schools it inspected between September and December 2014.  There are particular risks around some of the approaches schools most commonly use. The NAO estimates that schools have spent an extra £430 million on teaching assistants since the introduction of the Pupil Premium; a high-cost approach, while other low-cost interventions are used too infrequently, with just 25% using peer-to-peer learning.

This inquiry examines the current accountability and intervention mechanisms and how the pupil premium is improving disadvantaged pupils’ attainment and achieving other impacts.


Read all transcripts, written evidence and other material related to the funding for disadvantaged pupils inquiry.

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