Nice try, George. But the Pupil Premium is happening only because the Lib Dems are in government

Osborne -  Some rights reserved by altogetherfoolWho has made sure the Pupil Premium is being delivered in Government? Pretty straightforward question, you might think: the Liberal Democrats. Not if you’re George Osborne, though…

“I sit at that Cabinet table and I know who has really put forward the policies that are delivering a fairer society. The pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged children: that was Michael Gove’s idea, front and centre of the last Conservative manifesto.” (30 Sept 2013)

Erm… okay, George. Let’s take those two claims in order.

clegg pupil premiumFirst, you say it was Michael Gove’s idea.

That will come as news to Nick Clegg, who co-authored a pamphlet in 2002 advocating the pupil premium when he was an MEP – the first major national politician to do so. You can read it here. (The original idea, which later morphed into the Pupil Premium, is usually credited to Julian le Grand in the 1980s.)

Now, about your second claim, George… Let’s have a look at the Lib Dem and Conservative manifestos from 2010.

First, the Lib Dems.

lib dems pupil premium

The Pupil Premium was the party’s second highest priority policy, with £2.5 billion of new money specifically ear-marked to help support the most disadvantage children in school:

We will increase the funding of the most disadvantaged pupils, around one million children. We will invest £2.5 billion in this ‘Pupil Premium’ to boost education opportunities for every child. This is additional money going into the schools budget, and headteachers will be free to spend it in the best interests of children

Here, in contrast, is the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto pledge.

con pupil premium

I had to do a CTRL+F search to locate it – but you will eventually spot it, buried away, on page 53:

… we will introduce a pupil premium – extra funding for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

That’s it. One passing reference with no commitment to any additional funding (the Conservatives were simply going to re-distribute the existing schools budget). But if you’re George Osborne that’s apparently the equivalent of putting something “front and centre”.

Nice try, George. Top marks for effort and chutzpah. But the Pupil Premium is being delivered only because the Liberal Democrats are in government.

* Stephen was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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  • To be fair Stephen

    All 3 of the parties used the term “pupil premium” in their manifesto. Labour used it and promised a pupil premium at section 3:4 of their manifesto

    I can not stand the Tory party to be honest with you, but on this one they can claim that they are delivering on one of their manifesto pledges.

    Just because the Liberal Democrats had the same thing on page 34 of their own manifesto does not give them sole ownership of the policy.

    In the Interest of transparency, I think the coalition can both claim that they have both ” worked together” to deliver on “both” their manifesto pledges.

    That might not sound as sexy to the Liberal Democrats because it distinguishes the argument that they have won this great policy victory through compromise and negotiation in coalition.

    I think this is something that you will need to get used to in the coming months, because your coalition buddies are going to be there to rain on your parade at every given opportunity till the next General election.

    Who know’s, maybe this might be a sharp reality check for the party and they will start to realize that when you get into bed with the devil, you end up getting burnt. Time to fight back maybe………..

  • Tony Dawson 30th Sep '13 - 9:12pm

    Surely, unlike the tax break proposal, the pupil premium was common to both Manifestos, though clearly more a priority in the Lib Dem one. If only such policies agreed by both Parties were all that the Coalition government was allowed to bring in, instead of the ‘horse trading’ approach which repeatedly requires Lib Dems to vote for things our Party does not want and makes Tories vote for things they hadn’t thought of but later take the credit for?

    Better still, Lansley, Gove and Pickles could have been set adrift in a boat on the Thames or transported to Papua New Guinea? 😉

  • Nice try, Stephen. But the pupil premium is a less effective version of the EMA that the Lib Dem scrapped.

  • Miss Giselle William 1st Oct '13 - 9:44am

    There is a Factcheck on the Pupil Premium, which does “give it” to the LibDems.

    However, “additional money” for the Pupil Premium does not get viewed in the same favourable fashion:

    “The verdict

    Would Mr Laws’ idea of “addition” get him a pass?

    The government is correct to define the pupil premium as additional, in that it comes from a separate pot.

    But it’s not adding to what schools can do, as this new report suggests.

    According to the DfE, the Pupil Premium helps schools maintain projects for deprived kids in times of cuts. But maintaining something is not the same as “adding” to it, however the numbers are reshuffled”.

  • Nice try G but still got nothing to do with EMA. Being payments to post -16 to help with costs of staying in education. Which has continued but better targeted and run by colleges rather than centrally.

  • G: the EMA was nothing like the pupil premium, and was certainly not very effective. Up to £30 a week for 16-19 year-olds, depending on family income. The pupil premium (£1.25 billion in 2012/13) goes to schools to support disadvantaged children of all ages. (There is still a bursary scheme for disadvantaged older children.)

  • G- Surely you jest?!

  • Peter Watson 1st Oct '13 - 11:45am

    Let’s not forget that after earmarking £2.5 billion to support the most disadvantaged children, the latest Lib Dem ‘victory’ puts £0.6 billion per year into the pockets of the other children.

  • David Allen 1st Oct '13 - 12:16pm

    Whenever the Right introduces marketisation, a figleaf is found to turn away the wrath of their opponents and provide false reassurance that it will not increase social inequality. So it was when Labour introduced tuition fees, and banged on at great length about the bursaries they would also bring in to make sure poorer students were not disadvantaged. Or at any rate, less disadvantaged.

    In much the same way, free schools and academies are the Right wing “reform”, while the pupil premium is the accompanying figleaf provided to soften the policy. Without the figleaf in place, the electorate might reject the policy! That would never do.

    The Tory manifesto shows both the policy and the figleaf. The policy comes first, and the figleaf second. In relative terms, that’s honest.

    The Lib Dem manifesto contained only the figleaf and was coy about the policy. Nevertheless Clegg was quite happy to implement the policy as well. In relative terms, that’s less honest.

    So yes, the Cleggite Lib Dems can take pride in a measure designed to gull the public into voting for something they didn’t intend to vote for. The public understand. They won’t be fooled again. Until the Cleggies are kicked out, they will never vote Lib Dem again.

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