Daisy Cooper MP expresses serious concern about the decision the Government has taken to change the basis for Pupil Premium funding for the financial year starting on 1 April 2021 - funding which, as you know, is designed to deliver extra support to disadvantaged pupils.
Dear Secretary of State,
I am writing to express serious concern about the decision the Government has taken to change the basis for Pupil Premium funding for the financial year starting on 1 April 2021 - funding which, as you know, is designed to deliver extra support to disadvantaged pupils.
As stated on www.gov.uk: “Pupil premium funding for the financial year starting on 1 April 2021 will ...be based on the October 2020 census instead of the January census as would have previously been the case”.
As the majority of Pupil Premium funding is allocated based on the number of pupils in a school who claim Free School Meals (in addition to some other factors), the rise in unemployment since the start of the pandemic means it is likely that the number of pupils eligible to claim Free School Meals will have increased between October and January. This is especially the case given that many people lost their jobs at the end of October, when the government’s furlough scheme was due to end.
By using an earlier census, it seems very likely that fewer pupils will be recorded as claiming Free School Meals, and will by extension not not be eligible for the the Pupil Premium, than would be the case if this process had remained unchanged. In turn, this will leave some of the most disadvantaged students without the support they need.
I am appalled that at a time when more and more families are struggling to make ends meet, and schools and their pupils are dealing with unprecedented upheaval, your Department would make a change which will likely reduce the amount of funding schools would otherwise have received to support disadvantaged pupils.
I urge you to publish the basis for this decision and any impact assessment your Department has carried out at the earliest possible opportunity and not to press ahead with any change which will leave schools with less resources to support pupils from low income backgrounds at this incredibly difficult time.
I look forward to your response.
"Once again, disadvantaged school pupils are set to lose out as the Tories prioritise penny pinching over proper support.
"By moving the goalposts on the entitlement criteria for the “Pupil Premium”, thousands of children whose parents have become unemployed in the last three months will not get the crucial support they need.
"Liberal Democrats introduced the Pupil Premium because we know how vital it is to target support to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and close the gap between them and their peers.
The Conservative Government must urgently rethink this decision or they run the risk of more disadvantaged children falling behind."