f40 survey on impact to schools of Pupil Premium changes.

f40 has carried out a survey to understand the impact on schools of changes to the way Pupil Premium funding is calculated this year.

All of our 42 member authorities took part in the survey. It shows how many children qualified for free schools meals in October 2020, compared to January 2021, and what impact those figures could have on school funding.

Our figures show the difference in pupils eligible for free school meals between October and January, however, they may include a subset of children who had received free school meals at some point during the past six years and so were already included ‘as Ever 6’ and may have already been receiving extra funding. Unfortunately, we cannot identify these from the figures.

Pupil Premium is paid to publicly-funded schools in England to help them improve the attainment of their disadvantaged pupils.

Schools get £1,345 for every primary age pupil, or £955 for every secondary age pupil, who claims free school meals, or who has claimed free school meals in the last six years.

Previously, Pupil Premium was calculated on the number of children who qualified for free schools meals in the January school census. However, from April 2021, funding is being calculated from the October 2020 census.

While f40 appreciates why the Department for Education wants to streamline Pupil Premium funding to October, to bring it in line with other aspects of school funding, we believe it’s not practical to change the criteria during the pandemic.

This year, the need to support disadvantaged pupils to reach their potential is greater than ever and schools need to ensure the funding is in place to support this.

Our survey of f40 members has shown that between October 2020 and January 2021, collectively they saw an 8% rise in eligibility for free school meals in primary schools, and in secondary schools the collective rise was 3.5%. Those trends are likely to be replicated across the country.

However, changes in the way Pupil Premium is calculated mean schools will not receive the additional funding they require.

It is estimated that schools in the f40 local authority areas alone will see a shortfall of more than £36m in Pupil Premium funding this year.

We are asking the Department for Education to consider delaying the change or compensating schools for the funding they will miss out on this year. Without help, they will have to find the money from elsewhere to support their pupils, when budgets are already tight. Funding may have to be taken away from other priority areas in schools