The government announced recently the introduction of the new ‘Pupil Premium Plus’.
Children in care have previously attracted pupil premium funding at the same rate as children from low-income families, but in future they will attract a higher rate of funding – the pupil premium plus. From April next year, children in care will attract £1,900 additional funding per pupil, more than double the £900 awarded in 2013 to 2014.
In addition, this support will now reach more children. At the moment, children in care attract the pupil premium if they have been looked after for 6 months or more, but in future they will be funded from their first day in care.
For the first time, children adopted from care and those who leave care under a special guardianship order or residence order will also attract the pupil premium plus.
So, great news, the needs of Looked After Children and Adopted Children have finally been recognised by the Department of Education. From April 2014 both Looked After Children, and Adopted Children will attract a higher rate of the Pupil Premium called the Pupil Premium Plus.
This has caused much excitement in the world of Adoption, our children’s higher level of need in school can no longer be denied. Our children will receive additional funding for support in school to help them reach their full potential.
Edward Timpson said:
“It’s vital that these vulnerable children are given the targeted support they need and the education they deserve to help them get on in life.”
Exciting stuff! However, as well as excitement there is also a little unrest in the world of adoption, a few “hmmmm’s” and a few “yeah right’s” and a few “we’ll see’s”. Adopters have fought with schools and teachers for years to have their children’s needs acknowledged, never mind supported. Adopters have been made to feel like neurotic overprotective parents, had their children’s needs denied and some adoptive parents have even been made to feel at fault for their children’s difficulties. So its hardly surprising they’re feeling a little skeptical.
School head teachers have been left with the responsibility of deciding how the existing Pupil Premium is spent to best close the attainment gaps between the disadvantaged children eligible for the Pupil Premium and those not.
Here are some examples that I’ve taken from school websites across the country of how schools have been spending the existing Pupil Premium:
Supplement of Education visits and Visitors for Pupil Premium children
Contribution for Junior Librarian scheme to revamp the library and encourage home reading.
Year 6 children will receive extra Maths support through an additional teacher employed to run interventions and work with small groups.
Each child entitled to FSM in Year 5 and 6 offered a free Fit-For-Sport breakfast club place
New allotment club.
School trips subsidy for target pupils.
Employ a learning mentor to ensure targeted vulnerable pupils are in school on time and ready to learn.
Extra teaching time one afternoon per week to teach groups of pupils across the whole school.
School trips, extracurricular activities books to promote reading and to fund other opportunities to boost learning.
So how will the Pupil Premium Plus be spent, how will our children’s greater level of need be met with this new higher rate of funding. Will free/subsidised school trips help our children? or how about free access to breakfast clubs? or a learning mentor to encourage families to get their children in to school on time?
I cant deny additional staff to enable smaller class sizes would be of benefit, and specific types of after school clubs to help boost self esteem and learn new talents would also be of benefit. But adopters are worried that not enough will be done to target this money towards our children’s specific needs. Will the money be put in to a huge pot to provide support that really isn’t relevant?
“Through the Children and Families Bill, the government is also making it mandatory for every council to have a ‘virtual school head’ – an individual who champions the education of children in care and acts as their overarching head.
Today’s announcement includes plans to extend the role of the virtual school head to work with schools to manage the pupil premium plus and ensure that the money is spent on securing the best educational support and services for children in care. For example, this could include specialist tuition for musically gifted children or one-to-one catch-up sessions.”
So, the virtual school head will undertake the responsibility of making sure the ‘Pupil Premium Plus’ is targeted appropriately.
We adopters still wonder, will our children be offered free school trips and breakfasts when really what they need is emotional support, attachment focused teaching and understanding? Time will tell, watch this space…………….