Borough schools lose £420,000 due to Government’s Pupil Premium funding allocation
Schools within the borough will lose £420,000 of Pupil Premium funding, due to the government’s decision to use school census data from October 2020 instead of January 2021, as has been the norm in previous years.
This is additional funding allocated to schools to help disadvantaged pupils close the attainment gap between them and their peers. Children who are eligible for support are often those who access Free School Meals (FSM).
At the end of March, Council Leader Shaun Davies and Cllr Shirley Reynolds (cabinet member for children, young people, education and lifelong learning), together with Primary and Secondary Heads in Telford and Wrekin, wrote to Gavin Williamson, the Secretary of State for Education, to raise concerns about the government’s decision to change the date at which Pupil Premium funding is determined.
The letter to the Secretary of State for Education highlighted that 325 additional children in the borough qualified for Pupil Premium in January 2021 when compared to October 2020 and that the government’s decision leaves these children without much-needed support at a challenging time.
Following the Council’s request, the Government hasn’t reconsidered its decision.
The Department for Education recently admitted that, nationally, schools will miss out on around £90 million in pupil premium funding - despite previously insisting they would not lose out from a change to the way it is calculated.
Cllr Shirley Reynolds, cabinet member for children, young people, education and lifelong learning, said: “Together with Primary and Secondary Heads in Telford and Wrekin, we have done all we could to urge the government to reconsider its decision and revert to the usual January 2021 school census data to determine Pupil Premium.
“We are very disappointed that despite our efforts, Telford and Wrekin schools will lose over £420,000 funding, with hundreds of children in our borough without much-needed support.”
Council Leader Shaun Davies added: “At a time when so many families continue to struggle financially, the government has implemented a change leaving disadvantaged children to fall further behind.
“All throughout the pandemic our Council has been supporting thousands of borough families under financial strains with a wide variety of schemes, such as: food vouchers during school holidays, free breakfast boxes delivered through our community groups, coats and shoes during winter for children who need them, laptops for learning from home during lockdowns and many others.
“We will continue to help these families in need as we know the pandemic’s impact is still present.”
Mandie Haywood, Headteacher at Old Park Primary School (who signed the original letter to the Secretary of State on behalf of Primary Heads within Telford and Wrekin) said: “Across the borough’s primary schools, we have seen an increase in Free School Meal uptake, as the pandemic continues to affect many families.
“We are now being given less resources from government for these families, at this still difficult time.
“Throughout the pandemic, we have been working closely with the Council so families under financial pressure can get extra support in a range of ways and we are aiming to continue to do this.”
Krissi Carter, Principal at Burton Borough School (who signed the original letter to the Secretary of State on behalf of Secondary Heads within Telford and Wrekin) said:
“Also across the borough’s secondary schools, the number of pupils eligible to claim Free School Meals has increased between October 2020 and January 2021, as many families have seen their income significantly reduced.
“It is unfair for the Government to leave these children without additional support.
“We are working with the Council to make the most of the existing support schemes in place to help these families – such as with food vouchers during school holidays, holiday activities ideas to support with their wellbeing, all of these have made a really positive difference.”