Schoolzone: Yet another indication that PP funding has failed

Yet another indication that PP funding has failed


12 Jan 2016

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Pupil Premium funding was Nick Clegg's big idea - one of his self-acclaimed successes in the office of Deputy Prime Minister. We've noted several times in these pages that it's not really having the intended effect, that free school meals is one factor of a great many that need to be taken into account (many others not being) in a fair funding formula.

Now his new commission, Social Market Foundation’s (SMF) Commission on Inequality in Education launches today with a report that says that err... PP funding isn't really working. The good news is that, as the man himself says, "what is now becoming clear is that inequality in education comes in many shapes and sizes. It is not just the relative wealth of parents that holds large numbers of bright kids back".

The SMF report which is published today alongside Clegg's new commission launch points out that no progress has been made in closing the gap over the past decade (using the 5 A* to C including English and Maths measure) - which is as we reported in Feb last year and before that in October 2014 and also in September 2014. Mr Clegg must have missed these reports, which could have save the SMF some time and effort.

The Demos report (Feb 2015), in fact claimed that the gap was getting bigger and also notes (as the SMF report did, too) that London is closing the gap more effectively.

The report published on the SMF website is pretty terrible in many regards (it's not the full report) but the main problem is that it doesn't tell us anything new. It's also trying to do too much, perhaps.

The point is that we know about the inequalities: no matter how many times we look at performance data, we'll keep seeing the same things, until there's a better strategy for dealing with the issues. PP funding won't achieve anything because schools simply spend it on things they would spend money on anyway. Governments don't understand school spending - they keep making the same mistakes, thinking that throwing money at an initiative will make it work (remember the £330 million of eLearning Credits, for example?) - but schools spend money according to their needs, not according to government whims.

So "early 2016" was when George Osborne promised a consultation on fair funding for schools: it's that now, so let's get cracking, George. Meanwhile, Nick, please bring your new found clarity and whatever influence your new commission has, to bear on this and let's not miss the opportunity to put this right in 2016.


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