The pupil premium grant is funding to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged pupils in state-funded schools in England.

The grant also provides support for children and young people with parents in the regular armed forces, referred to as service pupil premium (SPP). This has been combined into pupil premium payments to make it easier for schools to manage their spending. Pupils that the SPP intends to support are not necessarily from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.

Funding criteria

Pupil premium funding is allocated to eligible schools based on the number of:

  • pupils who are recorded as eligible for free school meals, or have been recorded as eligible in the past 6 years (referred to as Ever 6 FSM)
  • children previously looked after by a local authority or other state care, including children adopted from state care or equivalent from outside England and Wales

Pupil premium is not a personal budget for individual pupils, and schools do not have to spend pupil premium so that it solely benefits pupils who meet the funding criteria. It can be used:

  • to support other pupils with identified needs, such as those who have or have had a social worker, or who act as a carer
  • for whole class interventions which will also benefit non-disadvantaged pupils

Pupil premium funding is allocated to local authorities based on the number of:

  • looked-after children, supported by the local authority
  • pupils who meet any of the eligibility criteria and who attend an independent setting, where the local authority pays full tuition fees

For pupils who are looked-after children, funding should be managed by the local authority’s virtual school head (VSH)  in consultation with the child’s school.

Details of the funding criteria for SPP is outlined in the Service pupil premium section.

Funding paid to schools

To ensure that pupil premium is focused on effective approaches to raising the educational attainment of disadvantaged pupils, schools (including local authority virtual schools) must spend their pupil premium grant (excluding service pupil premium) on evidence-informed activities in line with the ‘menu of approaches’ set by the Department for Education (DfE).

The menu aligns with the EEF’s 3-tiered approach, which helps schools allocate spending across the following areas:

  • developing high-quality teaching, for example through professional development and recruitment and retention
  • providing targeted academic support, such as one-to-one or small group tuition
  • tackling non-academic barriers to academic success, such as difficulties with attendance, behaviour and social and emotional wellbeing

When considering the balance of spending within the 3-tiered model set out in EEF’s guide to the pupil premium, schools should bear in mind that the EEF recommends that approaches which support and promote high-quality teaching in schools should be a top priority for pupil premium spending. However, the exact balance of spending between categories will vary depending on the specific needs of pupils and the relative size of the school’s pupil premium cohort.

High attaining eligible pupils should receive just as much focus as lower attaining eligible pupils when it comes to spending funding. Evidence shows that eligible pupils who are among the highest performers at key stage 2 are more likely than their non-eligible peers to fall behind by key stage 4.