Pupil premium funding to double for children in care

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Ten thousand more children will become eligible for pupil premium funding in plans announced by children's minister Edward Timpson today.

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The ‘Pupil Premium Plus’ will be worth £1,900 per pupil each year for all looked-after children and will be funded from the first day children are in care. It will come into force in April 2014.

Previously children in care only became eligible for the funding when they had been looked-after for six months.

The funding is more than double that currently available for children in care.

The pupil premium, introduced in 2011, gives schools extra funding with the aim of closing the attainment gap between children from disadvantaged families and their peers. Children from low-income families and children in care are eligible and it is worth £900 per pupil in 2013-14.

For the first time the funding will also be available to children who have been adopted from care and those who are under a special guardianship order or residence order.

The children’s minister said that this change would mean that 10,000 more children would be able to access the funding.

Mr Timpson said, ‘Children in care face unique challenges at school and often struggle to keep up with their peers at both primary and secondary level.

‘It’s vital that these vulnerable children are given the targeted support they need and the education they deserve to help them get on in life.'

The Government is also extending the role of 'Virtual School Heads'. Through the Children and Families Bill, every local authority will be required to have a Virtual School Head to champion the education of children in care. They will work with schools to ensure that the pupil premium funding is managed to provide specialist support for children in care, for example through specialist tuition for musically gifted children or one-to-one catch up sessions.

Commenting on the plans, Enver Solomon, director of evidence and impact at the National Children’s Bureau, said, ‘The additional funding announced today by the Department of Education represents a welcome commitment that Government wants to make a real difference and help children in the care system achieve better outcomes. We know that children in care face multiple challenges at school and often struggle to do as well as their peers.

‘Increasing the financial support through the pupil premium has the potential to really improve their education, and ultimately transform their life chances.  However, it will need to be closely monitored to ensure that the money reaches the children it is intended for and that schools do not use it for other means.’

Helen Donohoe, director of public policy at Action for Children said, 'It is known that when children are in care their education is likely suffer due to the extreme challenges that they face on a daily basis.
 
'We welcome Edward Timpson’s announcement that extra funding will be granted for each child in care. It is a valuable step towards the vital support that children in care need in education and a step forward in enabling them to achieve their full potential.
 
'As well as being given the support at school it’s vital that children have stable homes as the impact of them being bounced around the care system, particularly a key transition times in their education and exam times, has significant knock on effects.

'Through our work we know that children who are in care and in education can be made to feel singled out or different by teachers especially as they are constantly being publically asked for extra consent forms to be filled in or guardian signatures for trips when other children do not require these. This reinforces the feeling of "being different" and we must address their whole needs in school.'

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