Extra funding designed to help poorest pupils failing to reach those in need

The Pupil Premium gives extra money to schools for each pupil they have who is in local authority care or who has been eligible for free school meals

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Extra funding meant to help the poorest pupils under the pupil premium scheme is failing to reach those most in need, according to research.

A survey by the NASUWT teaching union has suggested that Nick Clegg’s policy, which gives schools up to an extra £1,300 for every disadvantaged pupil, could be getting swallowed up in general school budgets and not making it through to the classroom.

The research, which had nearly 2,000 responses from staff in England, found that over half (56 per cent) did not know where the extra funding was going, with many complaining that the money was not being spent on the pupils it was designed to help.

One said: “I fear that pupil premium funding is being used to prop up school funds.”

One teacher said: “I believe the way schools spend the pupil premium money should be closely monitored, as it appears it is not always used in the best interest of the child.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “Only when the professional opinion of those teaching the pupils is taken into account on how the funding can be most effectively used will real progress be made in closing the achievement gap for the most disadvantaged pupils.”

David Laws, the Liberal Democrat education spokesman, defended his party’s flagship policy. He said: “The pupil premium has meant £2.5bn extra going into schools – and in the hands of outstanding schools and teachers it is already making a real difference.”