Usually it’s quite hard explaining how being a Liberal Democrat Minister in government makes a difference to the people in my constituency. But the Pupil Premium is an exception to that rule. It is a policy with two key characteristics – it has an identifiable impact in every local area, and it’s distinctively Liberal Democrat.
Today the Government released the final Pupil Premium figures for English schools. In the financial year 2011-12 schools are receiving £488 for each child on free school meals they have on their roll.
Anyone can visit the DfE website and search for their local authority and school and find out – in pounds and pence – what difference the Pupil Premium policy is making to their local school. Clear, identifiable evidence of how we are starting to break the link, school by school, community by community, between poverty and achievement that has dogged our education system for so long.
The Pupil Premium is also clear, identifiable evidence of Liberal Democrat influence in government. Whatever the other parties might say, it’s a distinctively Liberal Democrat policy. Liberal Democrats designed it, campaigned for it, and made it a priority in the Coalition negotiations. Liberal Democrats in government have found the money to make it happen.
I know that this is just the start. For example, we know that some families eligible for free school meals don’t claim them, and so their schools are missing out on funding. We also need to find out what schools are doing that’s really making a difference, so that schools can learn from each other.
You can help by contacting your local school to find out how they are using their Pupil Premium funding, and how they are making sure they are reaching every child.
Sarah Teather MP is the Liberal Democrat Children’s Minister.