Extra cash for schools to help pupils in care

Schools in Yorkshire are to be given an extra £1.8m to teach children in care under the Government's flagship pupil premium policy.

New figures reveal that Leeds and Bradford are set to receive the most in the region to help schools to educate looked-after children.

The pupil premium will provide 625m funding for schools across the country – the equivalent of 430 a year per pupil.

Most of this cash will go to schools which teach children who receive free school meals, however. The premium will also support the education of children who have been looked after for at least half of last year.

The Department for Education has revealed that Leeds schools will get an 372,810 of pupil premium funding for children in care while Bradford is set to receive 240,800.

The overall pupil premium fund for Yorkshire has not been announced.

The fund will also cover a 200 per child premium for pupils whose parents are in the armed forces.

The Government expects 50,000 pupils across the country will qualify for this support.

Schools who receive the extra cash for deprived, looked after or service children do not have to spend the money directly on the child.

Hull schools are set to receive 154,370 through the pupil premium next year while Sheffield schools will get 153,940, Kirklees is receiving 140,180 and North Yorkshire has been allocated 135,800 funding.

The councils with the lowest pupil premium allocations for children in care in the region are Barnsley with 62,780, North Lincolnshire with 48,160 and North East Lincolnshire with 33,110.

Schools expect to discover in the new year how much overall pupil premium funding they are receiving and whether their budget will rise or fall.

The pupil premium was an election commitment of both the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives and Ministers originally described it as extra money on top of the existing schools budget.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has confirmed, however, that some schools will see their overall budgets drop next year despite the premium because of other changes to the teaching grants they receive. The Institute for Fiscal Studies predicted in October that 87 per cent of secondary school pupils and 60 per cent of those in primaries would see their school's funding cut over the next four years.

The Liberal Democrats had pledged to create a 2.5bn pupil premium but under the coalition Government's plans the fund will not actually rise to this amount until 2014-15. Next year schools will receive a quarter of this with 625m being allocated to the fund.

Children's charities have already warned that it would not be enough to make an impact.

Save the Children's head of UK policy, Sally Copley, said that it would take an extra 3,000 per child to "narrow the shocking attainment gap between richer and poorer students".

This is seven times higher than the Government is proposing for next year and more than schools will receive when the pupil premium rises to 2.5bn in four years time. The Government is initially awarding the premium to schools for every child they teach who receives free school meals but it plans to extend this from 2012 to children who have previously received free school meals.