At a time of national concern for the effect of school closures on the most vulnerable children the government has been forced to admit to a cut to the expected funding of Pupil Premium. This is the section of all schools’ budgets which supports the most disadvantaged children and those living in poverty.

Pupil Premium funding is based primarily on the number of pupils in a school who are eligible for free school meals. It has had a significant impact in providing additional support for the most vulnerable children in society and provided funding for a wide range of extra provision for children from homes where there are very few extras.

Last year over 1.4 million children received addition support in this way. For a school such as All Saints Academy in Cheltenham it is worth an additional £248,000 this year and supports over 40% ofstudents in the school.

In parliament the Minister for Schools, Nick Gibb, was forced to confirm that the basis for calculatingthe grant was to be moved away from the usual date in January 2021 to a retrospective date in October 2020. The government made the announcement on the day most schools broke up for the Christmas holiday.

As a result, thousands of children across the country whose parents have been forced to claim Universal Credit in the autumn and winter as a result of the pandemic will not be counted in the figures and therefore excluded from receiving the expected extra funding in this years’ school budgets.

It is estimated that an additional 200,000 children have been entitled to free school meals since early October. This deprives schools of around £250,000,000 of extra funding for coming year, hitting the poorest communities the hardest.

The present government was elected on the promise to “level up” and to support the “left behind” in our society. However, this decision suppresses funding directly intended to support these very families when unemployment and poverty is rising. That extra £25 million would make a real difference to those children’s education.


Malcolm Bride

Cheltenham Activists Network

This article appeared in the Gloucestershire Echo on 18/02/2021


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The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in these articles are those of local Party members and do not necessarily reflect the Labour Party.

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