Disadvantaged pupils lose £7.3m in funding

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Due to changes in how money is allocated, schools in the North East will lose between £5.16m and £7.26m, according to estimates by headteachers network Schools North East.

Pupil Premium grants are calculated using the number of students eligible for free school meals, receiving £1,345 per primary pupil and £955 per secondary school pupil.

According to the new rules, the size of the grant for the fiscal year 2021-22 is based on the number of eligible pupils in October last year. Previously, the figure was calculated for January. The number of students eligible for free school meals rose by about 5,400 pupils between October and January because of the economic impact of the pandemic, meaning the Grant is based on outdated statistics which are an underestimate.

The number of students on free school meals in the North East rose by 5,400 between October and January.

102,000 children became eligible for free school meals between October and January of last year. Pupils from lower-income
families who qualify for the Pupil Premium grant would have been set to benefit from the money. The grant is intended to help exam results and progress at school among disadvantaged pupils.

Pupil Premium funding has been used this year to deliver food parcels to families, help with internet access and utility bills, and provide transport so that vulnerable students could continue to attend school during the pandemic. MPs and union leaders wrote to Education Secretary Gavin Williamson in which they said: “We implore you to end this madness”.

Nationally, 102,000 children became eligible for free school meals between October and January of last year.

Image: Durham University

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