The January 2021 census will be used to determine pupil premium eligibility for alternative provision and pupil referral units for the 2021-22 financial year. Pupil premium eligibility for mainstream and special schools will be based on the October 2020 census.
Per pupil funding rates will be the same as in the 2020-21 financial year, which is expected to increase pupil premium funding from £2.4 billion in 2020-21 to more than £2.5 billion in 2021-22 as more children have become eligible for free school meals. In addition to this, the Government announced a further £300 million for a one-off recovery premium which will be allocated to schools based on the same methodology as the pupil premium. As a result, schools with more disadvantaged pupils will receive larger amounts.
The Department will confirm pupil premium allocations for the 2021-22 financial year in June 2021. This will provide information on the specific amounts that regions, local authorities, and individual schools are receiving through the pupil premium for the 2021-22 financial year.
Data on the number of pupils who have become eligible for free school meals since 2 October 2020 is currently being collected in the spring school census and is not yet available.
The Department publishes information on pupil financial premium allocations and the number of pupils eligible annually. The most recent publicly available figures can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/pupil-premium-allocations-and-conditions-of-grant-2020-to-2021.
The pupil premium targets children who are, or have been, eligible for free school meals in the last six years. It does not specifically target children with disabilities. All pupils with disabilities should receive appropriate additional support from their schools, drawing on the schools’ core budgets and, for pupils whose special needs or disabilities will lead to additional costs of £6000 or more a year, drawing on top up funding from the local authority. The Department anticipates that special schools will typically attract more pupil premium funding in 2021-22 compared to the 2020-21 financial year, as a larger number of their pupils will be eligible for the pupil premium based on the October 2020 census than the January 2021 census.
Using the October census will also allow special schools to get certainty around their future funding levels earlier in the year by receiving their funding allocations earlier.
As part of the Department’s regular programme of engagement, we have had discussions on the change to the October 2020 census for pupil premium funding with stakeholders, including head teacher representatives.