The government is committed to tackling the gap in attainment between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils, especially in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak and the time in school that many pupils have lost.
There are several measures in place to help schools support the academic progress and attainment of their disadvantaged pupils. These include the provision of additional funding through the pupil premium, the inclusion of a disadvantage factor within the national funding formula for schools, and the provision of heavily subsidised tuition and in-school support for disadvantaged pupils through the National Tutoring Programme. While these initiatives use proxy measures of economic disadvantage (notably pupil eligibility for free school meals) to allocate funding and support to schools, school leaders have flexibility to tailor the help that they provide to disadvantaged pupils in order to address the particular needs that arise from their specific social and financial family circumstances.
The measures for which the department is responsible form an important part of a wider cross-government commitment to addressing the effects of social and economic disadvantage and levelling up opportunity across the country. The department’s significant investment in schools and early years goes hand in hand with raising wages and increasing work incentives for the lowest-paid families, and a range of other national and regional actions to improve the infrastructure and promote growth.