New Sutton Trust poll findings on the use of pupil premium funds

A new Sutton Trust poll released today has found that nearly 1 in 4 teachers think pupil premium funds may not be targeted at poorest students. Here is the press release:

Nearly a quarter of teachers think that the pupil premium – funds which schools receive to help improve the results of their disadvantaged pupils – is not being targeted at low income students in their schools, according to a new Sutton Trust poll released today.

The pupil premium has been paid to schools since April 2011 to help them raise the attainment of their poorest students. From September 2014 total pupil premium funding will increase to £2.5bn. Schools will receive £1,300 for each eligible primary pupil and £935 for secondary pupils.

23% of teachers say their school uses the funds to raise the attainment of all pupils or to pay for activities affected by school budget reductions. A further 22% say their school uses pupil premium funding to raise attainment for students who are falling behind while half (53%) say it is used to raise the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.

The survey of 1,163 teachers, conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), also finds a growing number of school leaders are consulting the Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) Teaching and Learning Toolkit, an accessible resource based on research evidence to help schools find effective ways to spend pupil premium funding.

45% of senior leaders – heads, assistant heads and deputies – now say they use the Toolkit, compared with 36% in 2013 and 11% in 2012. The proportion rises to 54% among secondary leaders.

However, the survey results indicate that many schools may still not be spending their premium funds on methods shown by the toolkit to be particularly cost-effective.

Early interventions schemes are most often cited as a priority (55%), followed by one-to-one tuition (39%).  But only 13% of all teachers cite pupil feedback and 2% peer-to-peer tutoring, both methods shown to be highly cost-effective. Moreover, over a fifth (21%) of teachers say they don’t know their school’s main priority for pupil premium spending.

Sir Peter Lampl, Chair of the Sutton Trust and of the Education Endowment Foundation said;

“The pupil premium was established to break the cycle of disadvantage that begins when poor children underachieve at school. It’s vital that the funds to help these pupils are well targeted and used in a cost-effective way.

“We’re delighted that ever increasing numbers of school leaders are consulting the Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Toolkit but I hope that more teachers will use approaches shown by the Toolkit to be particularly effective.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. The Sutton Trust is a foundation set up in 1997, dedicated to improving social mobility through education. It has published over 140 research studies and funded and evaluated programmes that have helped hundreds of thousands of young people of all ages, from early years through to access to the professions.
  2. The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) surveyed a representative sample of 1,163 teachers in March 2014 in both primary and secondary schools for their Teacher Voice omnibus survey.
  3. Schools receive pupil premium funding for pupils who have been registered as eligible for free school meals (FSM) at any point in the last 6 years or have been looked after by the local authority. In 2013 37.9% of FSM eligible pupils achieved five GCSEs (including English and maths) at A*-C grades compared to 64.6% of other pupils. At age 7, 79% of FSM pupils achieved the expected level in reading in 2013 compared to 91% of all other pupils.
  4. Ofsted assesses schools on the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils; the progress made by their disadvantaged pupils, and the gap in attainment between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. The School Information (England) Regulations 2012 also require schools to publish online information about how they have spent the pupil premium and the impact it has had on attainment.
  5. The Toolkit summarises over 10,000 pieces of educational research relevant to improving the attainment of disadvantaged pupils. It covers 34 topic areas, ranging from arts participation to collaborative learning, using the best research available to summarise the average impact on pupils’ progress, average cost and strength of evidence for each area.

To view the questions asked and statistical results please go to the Sutton Trust website.

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