Sarah Teather MP writes: Pupil Premium – coming to a school near you

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.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • How is it “distinctively Liberal Democrat” when it was in the Conservative election manifesto?

  • diamondgeezer 12th Oct '11 - 12:33pm

    Dear John,
    The distinctively LibDem bit of this is that it was in the LibDem manifesto and additional money is being committed to it, as reflected in the LibDem manifesto.
    The Tory manifesto wanted to rob Peter to pay Paul, without committing additional funds. What a toxic government we would have if Tories were left to their own devices. Thank goodness we have LibDems in government promoting social mobility and a fairer start in life.

  • @diamondgeezer
    You may have Pupil Premium but the withdrawal of EMA funded that. So Peter was robbed to pay Paul. You have nothing to be proud of. We have a toxic government thanks to the Lib Dems who have agreed to every toxic policy that is causing so much hardship.

  • diamondgeezer, your angry partisanship is quite impressive. The size of the education budget is arbitrary anyway, and wasn’t decided until after well the coalition was formed, so the question of whether or not the pupil premium is funded by ‘additional money’ is meaningless.

    Also remember that the two parties were wholly agreed on the overall amount of government spending, so even if the vicious Tories had shrunk the education budget it would be to the benefit of another government department.

  • Simon McGrath 12th Oct '11 - 8:50pm

    @Anne – I would rather my tax money went to help the poorest children get a better edcuation that provide pocket money for teenagers.

    This is a brilliant move and one Lib Dem should shout from the rooftops.

  • Foregone Conclusion 13th Oct '11 - 12:08am

    I have to agree with Simon McGrath about EMA. A woefully poorly-targetted, wasteful scheme, the evidence base around its benefits is pretty thin. There are a set of marvellous posts on the subject here:

    And, of course, while the Coalition government has abolished EMA, it will be replaced with a discrentionary pot of money about a third of the size of the previous EMA budget, which is pretty big.

    About the whole ‘pupil premium is a Tory policy’ thing: while that’s technically true, if you look at their manifesto, even within the ‘Give every parent access to a good school’ sub-section within the Schools section (which, rather tellingly, is itself the last of four sub-sections), it isn’t exactly prominent: it’s after behind free schools and academies (three paragraphs), and is then followed by another paragraph talking about how academies can turn around failing schools. In other words, it is exactly as important to the Tories as their idea for a ‘health premium’, also in the manifesto, which has not seen the light of day. We, on the other hand, put it on the front of our manifesto.

  • David Allen 13th Oct '11 - 1:37pm

    Yes, Clegg put pupil premium on the front of the manifesto. It was, we now know, a Trojan horse, inside which was carefully concealed Clegg’s support for free schools, academies, and the general Conservative agenda for dismantling State public services. Which, of course, neither coalition partner was prepared to tell the poor voters about, when asking those voters to vote. Elections? They’re for winning any way you choose, aren’t they?

  • Old Codger Chris 13th Oct '11 - 2:00pm

    Sarah – perhaps I’m thick but I can’t access my local school’s Pupil Premium figure from the DfE website – can someone give me a clue? I know its URN number and (obviously) it’s name etc, but apparantly I need something called the LAEstab?

    Regarding EMA I’m sure reform was needed but not scrapping it! Have you seen today’s story about the decline in numbers entering FE? Ending EMA, scrapping Connexions (in some areas) dreadful levels of youth unemployment, society will pay the price of this for years to come.

  • Simon McGrath 13th Oct '11 - 9:56pm

    ‘Old Codger – there are two tabs -one marked schools which needs the URN number and one marked families which doesnt

    The headlines the BBC have given the story about Colleeg attendance is utterly misldeading. if you look at the actual data there is a drop of 0.1% – ie no effect at all.

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