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’). However, it is not ring-fenced to those children and can be spent in any way that the school sees fit, so long as the school is able to demonstrate that the specific needs of FSM pupils have been addressed and how this additional – and specific – funding, which is intended to compensate for disadvantage, is being used for this purpose.
School leaders and governing boards need to ensure that their school is tracking the progress of pupils in receipt of free school meals (FSM) to demonstrate how the school is using pupil premium grant funding. It is for the school to determine how best to use the funding – there is no prescription within allocations other than funding should not be simply added to the dedicated schools grant budget allocation in order to compensate for any recent financial cutbacks to schools.
Since September 2012, school leaders and governing boards have been required to ensure that their school is publishing information to parents and carers about how pupil premium grant funding has been spent in its entirety and what the impact has been on learning, attainment and pupils’ wellbeing and/ or pastoral care.