Poor pupil cash will not be ring-fenced

Critics claim premium scheme money will be used to plug gaps in schools' budgets

The Government will not ring-fence the £2.5bn a year to be handed to schools for the most disadvantaged pupils to ensure all of it is spent on them, Nick Clegg admitted yesterday.

The Deputy Prime Minister said it would be wrong to "micro-manage" every school from Whitehall by dictating how money allocated under his "pupil premium" scheme is spent. He dismissed criticism that it could be used to cover spending cuts.

But Alan Milburn, the Government's independent reviewer of child poverty and social mobility, is to investigate how and where the money is being spent. "It is opaque," said the former Labour cabinet minister. "That is a real problem. I will be looking into it."

In a speech yesterday, Mr Clegg offered schools a new deal under which they enjoy the freedom to spend the scheme's £1.25bn this year, rising to £2.5bn by 2015, in return for them redoubling efforts to close the gap between their poorer pupils and the rest.

He said the Coalition would not copy the previous Labour government by trying to hold the hand of every teacher in every classroom. He is confident teachers will innovate and spend the money well in different ways – such as one-to-one tuition, catching-up classes, breakfast clubs or counselling.

"This is a major change," he said. "We are saying, unlike ever before, that school excellence is not simply about great overall results. The best schools must be engines of social mobility too."

The Liberal Democrat leader insisted that schools would be held accountable and could not just spend the money on other things. Ofsted, the schools inspectorate, has been ordered to look "forensically" at how schools spend the money and to what effect. He said: "If a school's pupil premium population is failing, more likely than not the whole school will be judged to be failing. At that point ... Ofsted will take a much closer interest in how that school's pupil premium is spent."

He went out of his way to praise teachers, striking a different tone to recent criticisms of poor performers by Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, and Ofsted.

"When all the odds are stacked against a child – hardship, low confidence, parents who can't cope – it is teachers who step in and make the difference, teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty," said Mr Clegg.

But Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, said: "The Government needs to be honest. The pupil premium is simply being used to plug gaps in schools' budgets because of other funding cuts by the Government."

Answering questions after his speech, Mr Clegg fired a warning shot at the Chancellor George Osborne by saying the Liberal Democrats would not allow him to bring in regional pay in the public sector. He insisted the Government was considering only "localised" pay in specific services and accused unions of "ludicrous scaremongering" about pay freezes in the North while wages went up in the South-east.

Pupil premium: Clegg's big idea

asdjhagsj ajshdgjhg

on of mists and fruitfulness, close-bosom friend of the maturing sun, conspiring with him hofruitfulness, close-bosom friend of the maturing sun, conspiring with him how to load and bless with fruit the vines

l Nick Clegg became interested in the "pupil premium" idea of directing extra money for disadvantaged pupils to schools when he visited the Netherlands 10 years ago as an MEP.

l It became a key pledge in the Liberal Democrat manifesto.

l Under the Coalition's scheme, schools currently receive £600 for each of the 1.8 million pupils on free school meals at any time in the past six years.

l It will cost £1.25bn this year, rising to £2.5bn by 2015.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
The 67P/CG comet as seen from the Philae lander
scienceThe most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Arts and Entertainment
Ian McKellen as Gandalf in The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies
film
Sport
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sarah Koenig, creator of popular podcast Serial, which is to be broadcast by the BBC
tvReview: The secret to the programme's success is that it allows its audience to play detective
News
Ruby Wax has previously written about her mental health problems in her book Sane New World
people
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Recruitment Genius: Qualified Nursery Practitioner - Sevenoaks

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Room Leader - Nursery

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We currently have an opportunit...

Recruitment Genius: Assessor / Trainer

£25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join ...

Ashdown Group: Payroll Manager - London - £200 p/d.

£190 - £200 per day: Ashdown Group: Payroll & Finance Manager - Covent Garden,...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair