Pupil premium what is it?


Pupil premium funding was introduced in 2011 to give schools extra funding to help improve outcomes for disadvantaged children.

It is up to school leaders to decide how best to spend the pupil premium. 

The Department for Education (DfE) explains that as part of the pupil premium allocations and conditions of grant for 2021 to 2022, schools are now required to:

  • Demonstrate, from the next academic year, how their spending decision are informed by research evidence
  • Use the strategy statement templates to publish their pupil premium strategy

Eligibility and funding

Schools get pupil premium funding based on the number of pupils they have from the following groups:

Free school meals: 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 6 years

Looked-after and previously looked-after children: Schools get £2,345 for every pupil who has left local authority care through adoption, a special guardianship order or child arrangements order. Local authorities get the same amount for each child they are looking after; they must work with the school to decide how the money is used to support the child’s personal education plan

Academically able pupils: the pupil premium is not based on ability. Research shows that the most academically able pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are most at risk of under-performing. Schools should focus on these pupils just as much as pupils with low results.

Effective use of the pupil premium

The DfE explains that evidence suggests that pupil premium spending is most effective when schools use a tiered approach, targeting spending across the following 3 areas but focusing on teaching quality – investing in learning and development for teachers.

Read the Education Endowment Foundation’s (EEF) pupil premium guide for more information about the tiered approach to spending.


Schools arrange training and professional development for all the their staff to improve the impact of teaching and learning for pupils.

Academic support

Schools should decide on the main issues stopping their pupils from succeeding at school and use the pupil premium to buy extra help.

Wider approaches

This may include non-academic use of the pupil premium such as:

  • School breakfast clubs
  • Music lessons for disadvantaged pupils
  • Help with the cost of educational trips or visits
  • Speech and language therapy

Schools may find using the pupil premium in this way helps to:

  • Increase pupils’ confidence and resilience
  • Encourage pupils to be more aspirational
  • Benefit non-eligible pupils

Pupil premium: accountability

Schools must show how they’re using their pupil premium effectively:

Pupil premium: effective use and accountability contains information on how schools are held to account.

If you are an Edapt subscriber and you have been placed on capability procedures because of ineffective use of the pupil premium you can contact us for advice and support.

Pupil premium: what are schools doing?

Progress trackers

Headteacher Update provides a case study of pupil premium progress trackers at Markeaton Primary School. The school created a table on an A4 sheet which tracked behaviour in class, behaviour on the playground, participation in class and participation in a group for each disadvantaged child. These were rated by the class teacher from 0 to 5 – five being the most positive result.

The school also asked for the number of behaviour incidents that term and any enhanced opportunities that the children had been involved in. This assisted in the monitoring of the Pupil Premium budget and helped the school to critically analyse if the interventions were having a positive impact.

In September, after a few weeks of teaching and learning, class teachers submit their baseline tracker. They then update and submit again at the end of the autumn, spring and summer terms. At these data collection points, the Pupil Premium leaders identify any significant differences to their baseline scores and then seek reasons as to why they might have decreased.

Small group interventions

Amy Benziane writes in Sec Ed, “Following one of our departmental intervention meetings, grade 9 lunchtimes were launched. We targeted students who would not usually speak up in class or who found it difficult to imagine themselves performing at the top end with weekly lunchtime sessions.

Having done our research, we understood that articulacy and verbal literacy are some of the primary barriers for disadvantaged students. So the drive in these sessions was discussion on the big ideas, the overarching themes in the texts we study in English literature, with high level vocabulary being modelled and explicitly taught.

We knew the sessions would be invaluable and we wanted to ensure students understood their worth – so we made them opt-in. From 74 Pupil Premium students in the cohort, 38 signed up.

Our aim is to attach a certain amount of prestige to these interventions – there is no name and shame, only invite and enjoy. And by the end of the year, the students were more able to articulate their newly developed ideas but they also felt confident and empowered to appropriately express their concerns and successes with adults supporting them.”

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