The pupil premium grant (PPG) was introduced in 2012 to raise the attainment of disadvantaged children and close the gap between them and their peers. There are clear criteria regarding eligibility for this funding:
• children who have been in local authority care for 1 day or more
• children adopted from care
• children who have parents who work in the armed forces
• children eligible for free school meals
Sound simple? The introduction of universal free school meals has made identifying the group of children eligible for free school meals a little trickier. However, schools nationally are developing strategies to gather the information needed to ensure that eligible children access their entitlement to the funding. If you are currently trying to identify eligible children consider the following…
Contact your children’s centre
Your first stop, when gathering information about children, is your local children’s centre. Staff at the centre hold a range of information on families and children in their locality. They are key partners when it comes to sharing information and supporting children’s transition between providers. Staff will be aware of some of your more vulnerable families and might well have had regular contact with them prior to the child starting with you. They will know which children were eligible for a 2 year funded place. This will not necessarily mean that these children are eligible for pupil premium funding when they enter Reception but it can provide an indication.
Use visits to preschools, day nurseries and childminders to identify children who were eligible for early years pupil premium (EYPP) funding. If a child accessed EYPP funding you will still need to apply for PPG funding. However, eligibility for EYPP is a strong indicator that a child may be eligible for PPG (unless family circumstances have changed.) A discussion with the child’s key person will give you a wealth of information on the child including the child’s interests, strengths and developmental needs. If the child was eligible for EYPP, find out how the funding was used to improve outcomes for the child; what strategies were successful. Remember that the funding can be used to support a range of needs so gathering information about the needs of the family, alongside identifying the development and learning needs of the child, is imperative.
One of the greatest indicators of how successful a child will be is the quality of the home learning environment. Therefore, it is vital that you find out what support parents would find useful. Parents need to be informed of the rationale behind the funding and the criteria for eligibility. Outlining the national agenda and current research, in a digestible way for your parents, will demystify the purpose of funding and provide clarity when requesting personal information from them. This will need to be approached mindfully and sensitively as using the term ‘disadvantaged’ could cause offence when referring to family circumstances. Information on pupil premium funding should be included in show rounds, welcome meetings, starting school paperwork and admission documents. Sending a letter out requesting information is not always the most effective way to communicate with your families. Ask your families to share with you how they like to be communicated with and the range of media they use. Twitter, Facebook and e-mails are just a few ways schools have found to be effective in sharing and requesting information. A home visit is an effective way to gather rich information including eligibility for funding in a more informal and confidential space.
Many schools offer incentives to families in return for the information required to identify eligibility. Offering a free book bag/school jumper/P.E Kit can incentivise families to provide the information required and will ensure that all children, including those disadvantaged, have appropriate school clothing/equipment. Whilst this type of incentive requires an initial outlay it is worth considering the long term gains. Once a child has been identified as eligible for Pupil Premium Grant funding they will be eligible for the rest of their time in the Primary phase, irrespective of changing circumstances.
NB A child in Reception will attract £1,320 for the Reception year and a further possible £7,920 by the end of KS2. This is a considerable amount of money to improve outcomes for that individual.
Most schools identify staff members responsible for monitoring and evaluating the impact of funding on outcomes for disadvantaged children. Successful schools also identify a member of staff responsible for co-ordinating the identification of eligible families. Pupil premium funding can be used to fund this member of staff to spend an allocated amount of time per week/per term to oversee the identification of eligible children. Their role could include: attending welcome meetings and parent consultations, phoning parents, face-to-face contact in the playground and liaising with external professionals. A case study in the ‘Making the difference-Early Years Toolkit-Supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable children’ exemplifies the success one Hertfordshire school had when they identified a member of staff to take a lead on identifying eligibility.
By implementing a range of robust strategies, you will be able to identify children eligible for funding. It is then that you can consider how to allocate the funding to improve outcomes for individuals and begin to address social inequality…
For further guidance on a supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged children look at: