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Pupil Premium

Volume 549: debated on Monday 3 September 2012

We will continue to increase funding through the pupil premium for the benefit of disadvantaged pupils so that by 2014-15 it will amount to £2.5 billion, double the £1.25 billion we are providing this year. No decisions have been taken on funding beyond 2014-15, which will be part of our spending review considerations.

Any increase in the pupil premium will be enormously welcome in Worcestershire and other F40 areas where schools rely on it not only to help deprived pupils but to meet their basic funding needs after decades of underfunding. The Secretary of State has said that the funding formula is unfair and needs reform. I urge the Minister to ensure that that happens as soon as possible during the lifetime of this Government so that the pupil premium can reach all those for whom it was intended.

I understand that this is an issue my hon. Friend feels particularly strongly about. The Government agree that the school funding system needs reform. We have already announced changes for 2013-14 that will make the local funding system simpler and more transparent. We will introduce a fair national funding formula during the next spending period. I understand that that is rather longer than he is hoping for, but it is important that we make any changes at a pace that schools can manage.

How will the Minister ensure that spending via the pupil premium reaches the most disadvantaged pupils in schools and actually makes a difference to their outcomes?

From this September, schools are required to publish what money they receive through the pupil premium and what they do with it, and to do so online so that councillors, governors and parents can scrutinise what is happening with that money. Similarly, Ofsted is focusing much more on the efforts schools are making with disadvantaged students. Of course, we are publishing key stage 2 and 4 results for students eligible for the pupil premium separately. This is all part of a picture of increasing transparency. Of the schools I have visited, many are already using it for innovative and interesting projects. I encourage the hon. Lady to ensure that all the schools in her constituency have all the children who should be on free school meals claiming them to ensure that they actually get the money they are owed.