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What is the pupil premium, and how much is worth?

The pupil premium is additional funding provided to statefunded schools in England. The aim is to improve outcomes for disadvantaged children. In 2023 to24, the pupil premium is worth a total of £2.9 billion, and around 2.2 million pupils qualify.

Pupils may attract pupil premium if they are:

  • Disadvantaged, that is, they have been eligible for benefit-based free school meals (FSM) at any time in the last six years
  • Looked after or formerly looked after children
  • From armed services families

In 2023 to 24, the deprivation pupil premium (the element linked to FSM eligibility) is worth £1,455 at primary level, and £1,035 at secondary level. This is a five per cent increase in cash terms on the previous year. In real terms, so accounting for economy-wide inflation as measured by the GDP deflator, this is an increase of around 2%.

The Department for Education publishes annual pupil premium spending data by local authority, parliamentary constituency, and school.

Is the pupil premium working?

Key stage two, GCSE, A Level, and equivalent tests and assessments have all now resumed following suspension during the coronavirus pandemic. Emerging DfE attainment data suggests that the attainment gap between children attracting pupil premium, and their peers, has widened since the coronavirus pandemic.  Prior to the pandemic, and according to the DfE’s preferred measure, the disadvantage gap had generally been closing at key stage two (end of primary), and had been relatively consistent since 2014/15 at key stage four (GCSE level).

Extension of FSM and pupil premium to some families with no recourse to public funds

In 2021 to 22, eligibility for free school meals was permanently extended to some families with no recourse to public funds (NRPF). These pupils also attract the pupil premium to their schools.

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