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Free School Meals

Question for Department for Education

UIN 49130, tabled on 14 September 2021

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to ensure that schools receiving pupil premium are not adversely affected by the administrative change of calculations based on Free School Meals eligibility in October rather than January.

Answered on

22 September 2021

Schools receive additional funding through the pupil premium to help them support their disadvantaged pupils. For mainstream and special schools, the department has based pupil premium funding for the 2021/22 financial year on the October 2020 census data, instead of using the January census. Alongside the annual pupil premium publication, we have also published the financial impact of moving to using the October census: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/pupil-premium-effective-use-and-accountability.

Overall, total pupil premium funding is increasing to more than £2.5 billion in the 2021/22 financial year, up by £60 million from 2020/21. This reflects an increase in funding in approximately two thirds of schools, as more children have become eligible for free school meals.

Head teachers have the flexibility to prioritise support for specific groups of pupils according to their needs. To ensure schools have the best tools to make a difference for all their pupils, the department founded the Education Endowment Foundation in 2011 to research and promote the most effective ways of accelerating pupil progress. This includes guidance for head teachers recommending how best to use the £2.5 billion pupil premium. All schools should have regard to this high-quality advice when deciding how to tackle the attainment gap.