Schools are being offered a £4 million “carrot” to improve the exam and test performance of their most disadvantaged pupils.
The Government is to offer huge rewards from next year to the schools who make best use of its “pupil premium” - the extra cash given to them for every pupil entitled to free school meals they take on - to improve the performance of disadvantaged children.
A top prize of £250,000 will next year go to the secondary school that achieves the best results for their pupils. The schools will be judged on their performance in the academic year 2013/14.
The plan was revealed yesterday by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Liberal Democrat Schools Minister David Laws, as the pupil premium was one of the main concessions wrung from the Conservatives by the Liberal Democrats when the Coalition Government took office.
In all, around 500 schools will benefit from the new prize money, with £100,000 going to the top primary and special schools. A further 20 regional awards of £100,000 for secondary schools and £50,000 for primary and special schools will also be made, with runners-up receiving up to £50,000 as well.
Hundreds more schools will be given more modest awards of up to £5,000. Schools will be free to use the money to buy in extra teaching support for disadvantaged pupils or send them on out-of-school trips.
Up until now, the maximum “prize” for the best performance has been £10,000.
Mr Laws said the new awards “will reward the schools leading the way in bridging the gap between background and achievement”.
“Previous awards have been a tremendous success and we are making the 2015 scheme bigger and better,” he added. “By next year’s awards, we will have invested a total of £6.25 billion through the pupil premium over four years, highlighting our commitment to helping disadvantaged pupils do well in school.”
At present, primary schools receive £1,300 for every disadvantaged pupil, and secondary schools £935.