Department for Education pushes for three-year pupil premium plans


Schools should develop three year budget plans for how they spend their pupil premium, according to new guidance from the Department for Education.

Ministers are keen for schools to have longer-term strategies in place, however, funding is still only being guaranteed year on year.

From the start of the next school year, beginning September 2019, schools will be encouraged to shift away from annual reviews towards a “multi-year approach”.

The DfE has suggested that one main review could cover a three year period, with “light touch” annual reviews in the interim period.

By taking a longer term view, schools will be able to “align plans with the wider school improvement strategy”, it is claimed.

Despite this, funding is still allocated annually, which could cause problems for schools according to Julie Cordiner, co-founder of School Financial Success Publications.

“While pupil premium is easier to forecast than other funding streams, the difficulty comes in schools that have high pupil turnover – they would find it quite challenging to predict or manage over a three-year period,” she explained.

The DfE has suggested that schools will have greater certainty when planning staff development, teacher recruitment, expenditure and training if planning for a longer period.

“The longer term pupil premium strategy is a suggestion to help schools think more strategically about how they support their disadvantaged pupils,” the DfE stated.

Julia Harden, a funding specialist at the Association of School and College Leaders, welcomed the plans but warned that schools may need to make assumptions over what levels of funding they will receive.

The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has said that ensuring that a quality teacher is in every classroom should be the “top priority” of the funding.

Otherwise, it should be used to reduce academic barriers for disadvantaged children and to offer targeted academic support where it is appropriate, new guidance from the EEF suggests.

Since being introduced in 2011, pupil premium funding has topped £10 billion.