“Invisible” pupils not considered for Pupil Premium

In England, Pupil Premium (PP) funding is provided for pupils who, on the national school census return (collected termly since 2006/07), are recorded as having been eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) at any point during the previous six years (Ever 6). However, new research, published by FFT Education, has identified an “invisible group” of pupils, whose attainment and progress may also have been negatively affected by disadvantage but who do not qualify for PP funding.

The report’s author examined the attainment and progress of pupils who fall outside Ever 6, but who had qualified for FSM at an earlier time. This is a substantial number of pupils. In 2013 the Year 11 cohort in England included over 38,000 pupils who had received FSM at some point, but not in the previous six years. He found that the attainment and progress of this “invisible group” was much lower than those who have never received FSM. Other findings included that the proportion of time for which a pupil is FSM while at school is likely to be the best indicator of the potential impact of disadvantage upon attainment and progress.

The report makes a number of recommendations, including considering basing the PP on FSM “ever” (rather than Ever 6), and taking into account the amount of time an individual pupil has qualified for FSM. Independently of this, schools could consider whether pupils who have previously been FSM, but not in the previous six years, are in need of additional support.

Source: Pupil Premium and the Invisible Group (2014) FFT Education.

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