30/06/2015

Pupil Premium Impact Will Take Time - NAO

The National Audit Office (NAO) has said the full impact of allocating money to schools for poorer pupils 'will take time'.

The department's report said the Pupil Premium has 'potential' to bring about a more significant improvement in outcomes.

However, it added there was still 'more to do' by schools and government.

The NAO pays the premium directly to schools as extra funding for each pupil between five and 16 from a socio-economically disadvantaged background.

The aim is to lessen the gap between them and their peers by improving their academic performance.

Between 2011 and 2014 there was a 4.7% decrease in the size of the attainment gap between disadvantaged and other pupils in primary schools.

During the same period there was a 1.6% decrease between pupils in secondary schools.

However, the NAO report has said 'no clear trend' has been established and the gap 'remains wide'.

The department has also said the fundings impact has been reduced by ineffective spending of the Pupil Premium.

Ofsted carried out inspections between September - December in 2014 and expressed concern about provision for disadvantaged pupils in 8% of primary schools and 21% of secondary schools.

The NAO expects an extra £430 million has been spent on teaching assistants since the funds introduction.

The department states it is "a high-cost approach which, research indicates, will only improve results if schools learn to deploy these staff more effectively.

"Other low-cost interventions are used too infrequently, with just 25% using peer-to-peer learning.

"The current accountability and intervention mechanisms, which work in some cases, nonetheless could allow schools to waste money on ineffective activities for many years without challenge."

The department expects the full impact of funding to be felt in 2023.

Approximately £2.5 billion was given to schools between 2014-2015 as premium funding, with 2 million pupils classified as disadvantaged in 2014.

Amyas Morse, Head of the NAO, said: "Early signs are that the Pupil Premium has potential, but it will take time for its full impact to become clear.

"As it takes the policy forward, the Department will need to review whether spending more in this way would allow it to close the attainment gap more quickly.

"The high degree of local discretion has benefits and costs. Some schools don’t appropriately focus funding on disadvantaged pupils, and some spend funds on activities which are not demonstrably effective."

(LM)

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