Only a few days to go: We’re raising £25,000 to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Schools: Pupil Premium — Question

– in the House of Lords at 2:45 pm on 3rd February 2014.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Horam Lord Horam Conservative 2:45 pm, 3rd February 2014

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to increase the Pupil Premium for the most disadvantaged primary school children.

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

My Lords, pupil premium funding will rise from £1.875 billion to £2.5 billion in 2014-15. The primary school pupil rate will increase from £900 to £1,300 to reflect the importance of early intervention. For the first time, all pupils who are looked after or leave care through adoption, special guardianship or residence orders will attract £1,900 from April 2014.

Photo of Lord Horam Lord Horam Conservative

My Lords, this is a very important educational programme and I am pleased that it is going to have a further boost above what it already has. What advice is available to schools on how best to use the money they receive? What means does the Minister have to check that they are using the money wisely?

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

My Lords, advice is available from, for instance, the national college, which lists a database of schools with excellent practice. We direct schools to the teaching and learning toolkit run by the Education Endowment Foundation, which provides an accessible summary of research on key education interventions that have an impact in this area. Ofsted’s report last year on the impact of the pupil premium in schools that do this well was very informative. In addition, any school judged to be requiring improvement, where the leadership is also deemed to require improvement, is expected to carry out a pupil premium review. Schools must publish online details of what they do with the pupil premium and Ofsted will be looking very closely at its use and effect on pupils’ attainment.

Photo of Baroness Massey of Darwen Baroness Massey of Darwen Labour

My Lords, in the past, some schools have used the pupil premium not for individual pupils but to support general provision. What is being done to check that?

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

As I said, my Lords, schools are required to publish online how they have spent the pupil premium and the effect it has had on attainment. If it had been used on general provision, they would have to justify how that had impacted all pupils. Ofsted inspections are increasingly focused on the achievement of disadvantaged pupils. It is now very unlikely that a school which is not showing good progression for disadvantaged pupils would make an outstanding rating.

Photo of Baroness Howarth of Breckland Baroness Howarth of Breckland Crossbench

My Lords, having information online is very helpful. It is even more so when heads are able to meet and share information about the way they have been developing programmes. I have recently seen work done by family learning programmes using part of the pupil premium. Will the Minister encourage head teachers to share good practice more directly, as this seems to have a real impact?

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The noble Baroness is absolutely right. Good practice, of which there is a lot available, should be shared. We are encouraging, at every turn, all schools to do what good schools do. School-to-school support is the best way of improving performance.

Photo of Baroness Walmsley Baroness Walmsley Liberal Democrat

My Lords, since my noble friend clearly believes, as I do, that early intervention is a very good strategy, will he go further and agree with the Liberal Democrat policy of putting pupil premium into the early years sector?

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Funding is tight, as my noble friend will know, and we have no plans to do that in the near term.

Photo of The Bishop of Wakefield The Bishop of Wakefield Bishop

My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether the Government are considering ways in which an increase in the pupil premium can be targeted at the forms of deprivation most difficult to address? Rural deprivation, for example, particularly in church schools, is very significant in our part of West Yorkshire, in the Diocese of Wakefield.

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The right reverend Prelate is quite right to point out the problems with rural deprivation; it is similar to coastal deprivation. There are particular schemes that schools follow: mentoring; systemic feedback; much more involvement of parents; early intervention, particularly using the better teachers; and peer tutoring. Much can be learnt from groups like Ark, whose academy in Portsmouth, for instance, which is in a classic coastal town, has improved results in four years from 24% to 68%.

Photo of Baroness Hughes of Stretford Baroness Hughes of Stretford Shadow Spokesperson (Education)

My Lords, as the Minister himself just said, Ofsted has a crucial role in improving the standards of attainment for the most disadvantaged pupils. Does he therefore agree that its effectiveness depends on it being a very strong and independent organisation? Does he therefore regret the political interference of the Secretary of State in the reappointment of the current chair of Ofsted, who by all accounts has done an excellent job?

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The answer to the noble Baroness’s first question is yes. The answer to the second is that I cannot regret something that is not taking place.

Photo of Lord Sutherland of Houndwood Lord Sutherland of Houndwood Crossbench

My Lords, does the Minister agree that Ofsted must be judged on the basis of the quality of its evidence and of the surveys that it carries out in schools and the implications for a policy such as this, rather than on political matters?

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The noble Lord is absolutely right. Of course, given his background, he is vastly experienced in this. I could not agree more. Ofsted is doing an outstanding job. It is our sharpest tool. The first thing that the chief inspector did was to abolish the appalling and mediocre term “satisfactory” that had been allowed to exist for years. That shows where he is coming from, and he is having a great effect. Indeed, Ofsted reports that last year our schools improved at a faster rate than any other time in history.

Photo of Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Baroness McIntosh of Hudnall Deputy Chairman of Committees, Deputy Speaker (Lords)

My Lords, will the Minister remind the House what the key measures of deprivation are against which the allocation of the pupil premium is measured? To go back to the question from the right reverend Prelate, are those standard measures applied consistently across the whole country?

Photo of Lord Nash Lord Nash The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

The noble Baroness has asked me a question that has a very detailed answer. There are about six key measures. We attempt to apply them equally across the country, but the answer is so complicated that I will write to her, if I may.