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Pupil Premium

Volume 511: debated on Monday 7 June 2010

The introduction of a pupil premium will target extra funding specifically at deprived pupils to enable them to receive the support that they need to reach their potential. By targeting the funding via a pupil premium, extra funds to support disadvantaged children will be clearly identifiable. We will publish our proposals, with details on how we plan to distribute the pupil premium, in due course.

I thank the hon. Lady for that answer and wish her well in her new role. My constituency, Reading East, like those of many hon. Members, has deep pockets of deprivation. Will she therefore confirm today that all disadvantaged children will receive a fair share of funding from the pupil premium, wherever they happen to go to school?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. I am aware that he has taken an interest in the pupil premium over a long period. It is an issue that I championed from the Opposition Benches, so I feel passionately about this policy and the opportunity to change young people’s lives. It seems a sad indictment of the society in which we live that parental income remains the best predictor of educational attainment. The hon. Gentleman’s point about pockets of deprivation is precisely the reason why the pupil premium represents an opportunity to change young people’s lives. At the moment, the system for distributing deprivation funding often does not get to the front line, particularly where pockets of deprivation are surrounded by an otherwise relatively wealthy area.

The hon. Lady and her Liberal Democrat colleagues are clear that the pupil premium must mean rising education spending for the next three years. I confirm to the Secretary of State and the House that the old Chief Secretary and the new Chief Secretary made a commitment to me, Lord Mandelson and Lord Adonis in the coalition talks that there would be additional money, on top of rising spending this year, next year and the year after—a commitment that the Secretary of State could not make today. Does the hon. Lady agree—I will not quote her this time; I will quote the Deputy Prime Minister—that

“without money, that commitment will continue to be meaningless—more spin without substance which will yet again leave thousands of children short-changed.”?

Are the Liberal Democrats being short-changed by their Conservative colleagues?

The Prime Minister made it clear from the Dispatch Box last week that the pupil premium would involve substantial extra money from outside the education budget. Perhaps I should remind the right hon. Gentleman that one of the sticking points during the coalition talks with the Labour party was that it would not agree to the pupil premium.

Could the Secretary of State please confirm that the pupil premium will still include an upward adjustment for the children of military families—a matter of utmost importance for thousands of schoolchildren in my constituency, Devizes?

I thank the hon. Lady for her question. She makes a very good point, which we are considering at the moment. We will announce further details of our policy on the pupil premium in due course.