Thursday, 20 September 2012

LibDem Pupil Premium flagship holed

If there was one thing the Liberal Democrats believed they has a winning policy on that they could get the public on  their side was the Pupil Premium

Westminster MPs and Welsh Assembly members pushed it, Blogged on it and boasted of it when it was adopted

As Aled Roberts LibDem Education Spokesman wrote in Liberal Voice only last week...
"Education is a cornerstone of Liberal Democrat policy and principle. As Lib Dems we subscribe to the view that education is a crucial means by which individuals can realise their full potential. It was only fitting, therefore, that one of our key 2010 election pledges was the implementation of a policy which could address the inequalities in our education system – the Pupil Premium. It was a clear and straightforward manifesto pledge, easy to campaign on and one of the major Lib Dem policy accomplishments for England when Lib Dems went into Coalition Government. Accompanied by the Sutton Trust Toolkit for Implementation the Pupil Premium looked secure and sustainable".
Perhaps he may have seen that this policy may not .be having the desired effect......
So how should we assess our Welsh Pupil Premium, or to give it its official name, the ‘Pupil Deprivation Grant’? In July, the Sutton Trust published the results of a teacher survey it commissioned into how the Pupil Premium is being used in England. The findings, which highlight that many of the teachers surveyed are unaware of how the pupil premium should be or is being spent in their schools, are a lesson to us in Wales to make sure that we carefully monitor the application of the grant. Every effort must be made to make sure teachers are aware that the money has a specific purpose for disadvantaged pupils and isn’t there to act as a stop-gap when other budget areas come under pressure".
Liberal Democrat Voice 11/09/212
Well if the evidence from England is anything to go by then the pupil premium will make no difference

The BBC reports that Ofsted  have found that Schools in England must do more to ensure funding from the pupil premium is targeted to the disadvantaged pupils it is intended for, ..

"Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw says heads must be able to demonstrate how the extra funding for low-income children is raising their attainment.The cash - £600 per pupil this academic year - is a flagship coalition policy.Sir Michael also warns bright pupils are being failed by mixed ability classes and early entry for GCSEs.Of 117 head teachers surveyed, only 10%, all of whom led schools in deprived areas, said the extra cash from the pupil premium had "significantly" changed the way they worked, the schools watchdog found.Half of the schools surveyed thought the pupil premium was having a positive impact on raising achievement, but few could provide evidence to back this up".

BBC 19/09/21012

So it seems that Schools may be looking at the Premium may be seen as simply increasing  the General School fund and may seen as plugging the gap after cuts and simply be spent on all the children in the School.

Of course the story in Wales may be better and the Premium spent more efficiently.

But I suspect the story will be the same as  in England and however "La Pasionaria" and Aled Roberts spin it and it may be true that  the pupil premium may give extra resources particularly  in deprived area which while it is not to be sniffed up may not help the poorer pupils that it supposed to be targeting

For many LibDems the Pupil Premium was the one policy they hoped they could claim credit for and reverse the fortunes 

But its beginning  to resemble a Premiership side facing relegation who pin they hopes on signing a new striker only for him to injured and declared unfit for the rest of the season. 

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