In the first and second of a three part series, Becky Allen, the Director of the Centre for Education Improvement Science at UCL, argues that Pupil Premium isn’t working for disadvantaged children.
Becky Allen argues that Pupil Premium is not well targeted to those who are educationally disadvantaged and that it assumes Pupil Premium children all have similar needs. It also criticises the focus on closing the gap with non-Pupil Premium children, which she says is based more on the demographics of non-Pupil Premium children than anything schools have done. For example, it would be significantly easier to close the gap if you drew all your intake from one estate than if you had a genuinely mixed intake.
Ms Allen thinks comparisons of disadvantage gaps, such as the recent EPI report makes, are not especially useful because:
- The tests and assessments that go into attainment measures change regularly and can affect the gap. E.g. changes that benefit higher attaining students would widen the gap.
- The group of students classified as pupil premium varies with the economic cycle/changes in benefit entitlements/changes in qualifying benefits.
- Free School Meal (FSM) eligibility falls continuously from age 4 onwards as parents return to the labour market, so comparisons of gaps between stages are not useful.