Ofsted says Pupil Premium is still not being used effectively

Katy Morton
Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A number of schools are still struggling to show how the Pupil Premium funding is helping to narrow the gap between pupils from low-income households and affluent families, according to a new Ofsted report.

The findings, based on visits to 68 primary and secondary schools, reveal that while a growing number of schools are using their Pupil Premium funding effectively to raise achievement levels among poorer pupils, a ‘significant minority’ are still not spending the money on interventions that are having any meaningful impact.

According to the report, a follow-up to initial findings published by Ofsted last September, some schools are struggling to show that the funding is making any real difference because they do not successfully track how they spend the additional funding or evaluate the effectiveness of measures they have put in place.

Ofsted inspectors found that schools which were less successful in spending the funding had a lack of clarity about the intended impact of spending, and did not have a clear audit trail for where the funding had been spent.

They also tended to spend the Pupil Premium indiscriminately on teaching assistants, with little impact, and compared their performance to local rather than national data, which suppressed expectations if in a low-performing local authority.

In contrast, the schools spending the Pupil Premium funding successfully were able, through careful monitoring and evaluation, to demonstrate the impact of each aspect of their spending on the outcomes for pupils.

Many determined which pupils were underachieving and why and ring-fenced their funding to ensure it was reaching those children.

They also allocated their best teachers to lead intervention groups and made sure support staff, particularly teaching assistants, were highly trained.

Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said, ‘Following my criticism of schools last year, it is clear more are now taking their responsibilities seriously when it comes to using the Pupil Premium money, and our inspectors have found evidence of some very good practice.

‘However, some schools still lack good enough systems for tracking the spending of the additional funding or for evaluating the effectiveness of measure they have put in place in terms of improving outcomes.

‘We will continue to take an active interest in this issue in the coming months. Where we find funding isn’t being spent effectively on improving outcomes for disadvantaged pupils, we will be clear in our criticism.

‘It is vital that schools get this right. Every child who leaves school without the right qualifications faces a far more difficult path to fulfilling their potential and finding employment.’

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