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Pupil premium 'could disadvantage poorest pupils'

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The coalition government’s proposals for a “pupil premium” to give schools more funding for disadvantaged pupils risk discriminating against some of the most deprived communities in the country, London Councils has warned.

It said one of the Department for Education’s suggested methods for calculating the premium, outlined in a consultation, would see the most deprived children receive less funding than comparatively wealthier counterparts.

The lobby group has written to children’s minister Sarah Teather and department officials to highlight its concerns.

One example it cites is a scenario in which children in highly-deprived Tower Hamlets LBC would receive a premium £653 per deprived pupil, while less-deprived Wokingham BC would receive £2,943 for each eligible child.

London Councils said the problem centred on a focus placed on total funding per pupil, rather than the total level of deprivation funding per deprived pupil.

It said that under the particular funding model it is concerned about, the more deprived an area was the less deprivation funding deprived children would receive.

London Councils executive member for children and young people Steve Reed (Lab) said the implications of the funding-model disparity were not limited to the capital.

 “We assume that it is not the government’s intention to penalise pupils from more deprived areas, but unfortunately that is what their plans look set to do,” he said.

“This is not just about London – the most deprived areas around the country will see far less pupil premium funding per child than significantly wealthier areas of the country.

“This is the complete opposite of what the government says it is trying to do.

“We have set out a fairer and more robust model, and I will be raising this with ministers at the first opportunity.”

The Department for Education has yet to comment on London Councils concerns.

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