The government believes that the pupil premium, which is additional to main school funding, is the best way to address the current underlying inequalities between children eligible for free school meals (FSM) and their peers by ensuring that funding to tackle disadvantage reaches the pupils who need it most.
The pupil premium was introduced in April 2011 and is allocated to schools to work with pupils who have been registered for free school meals at any point in the last six years (known as ‘Ever 6 FSM’).
Schools also receive funding for children who have been looked after continuously for more than six months, and children of service personnel.
The government believes that headteachers and school leaders should decide how to use the pupil premium. They are held accountable for the decisions they make through:
- schools performance tables which show the performance of disadvantaged pupils compared with their peers;
- the Ofsted inspection framework, under which inspectors focus on the attainment of pupil groups, and in particular those who attract the pupil premium;
- the reports for parents that schools have to publish on their website.
In most cases, the pupil premium is paid direct to schools, allocated to them for every pupil who receives free school meals. Schools decide how to use the funding as they are best placed to assess what additional provision their pupils require.
Local authorities are responsible for looked-after children and make payments to schools and academies where an eligible looked-after child is on roll.