November 2015

Following a campaign by the Sutton Trust, in November Education Minister Sam Gyimah confirmed the pupil premium will not be changed as was mooted by DfE sources in a TES article. The confirmation came in a written answer to a parliamentary question asked by Sutton Trust supporter Ian Austin MP.

Ian Austin, Labour MP for Dudley South asked:

  • What assessment she has made of how effectively pupil premium funding is used by schools to support disadvantaged highly-able pupils.
  • What steps she is taking to ensure that schools facilitate highly-able pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds accessing the best universities

Education Minister Sam Gyimah answered:

  • We have no plans to change the basis on which the pupil premium is distributed to schools.
  • Our school reforms are intended to deliver educational excellence everywhere so that every child, regardless of background, reaches their potential. This includes the new ‘progress 8’ performance measure for secondary schools, so that schools are recognised for the improved achievement of every child.
  • The department recently published ‘Supporting the Attainment of Disadvantaged Pupils: Articulating Success and Good Practice’. This is independent research on the effective use of the pupil premium, carried out by National Foundation for Educational Research. On the basis of this report, the department published ‘Supporting the attainment of disadvantaged pupils: briefing for school leaders’, which reinforces the importance of supporting more able disadvantaged pupils to meet their potential.
  • Widening participation in higher education (HE) is a priority for this government, building on the real progress being made in the last 5 years. In England the entry rates for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds were at record levels in 2014, rising from 13.6 per cent in 2009 to 18.2 per cent in 2014. Applications from this group also reached a record high in 2015, with the latest data showing a 21 per cent application rate. As set out in the Green Paper on Higher Education, published on 6 November, this government has set a goal to double the proportion of people from disadvantaged backgrounds entering HE by the end of this Parliament from 2009 levels. Schools have a critical role in delivering on this commitment.
  • We have introduced compulsory study of the key English Baccalaureate subjects to make sure more pupils get the rigorous academic education they need to succeed in getting a place at university.
  • We are also committed to continuing the pupil premium, protected at current rates, so that pupils from the poorest backgrounds get the help they need, including the most able.
  • Work is underway to implement collaborative national networks that will provide single points of contact to help teachers and advisers to find out about HE outreach activity in their area, and give general advice about progression to HE. A total of £22 million is being provided in 2014-16, and 35 networks will cover schools across England.

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