The Pupil Premium and Oxfordshire County Council
The ‘pupil premium’ is a fund created by the government which is distributed via local authorities to schools. It is linked to the number of disadvantaged students in each local authority area and is supposed to be used to give these students an ‘extra’ boost. It is specifically linked to numbers of young people in care or receiving free schools meals.
It was heralded by the leader of the Liberal Democrat party as a major initiative for social inclusion. Nick Clegg said:
Get this right and we make good on education’s progressive promise. To give every child the chance to go as far as their abilities and effort can carry them
How is it being used in Oxfordshire? Extra lessons or provisions for these disadvantaged groups? The equivalent of private tuition that other young people enjoy? No. In Oxfordshire what they are doing is taking these disadvantaged young people out of classes such as art and P.E and giving them extra lessons in maths and English instead. (I know this because I applied for a job on the programme and was told this by one of the programme managers). The point of this is obvious: to increase the figures in the various league tables and SATS scores etc. Art and P.E are not scored for national measures. English and maths are.
So. A policy sold by a politician as a major initiative for ‘equality’ and social justice is being implemented in a wholly cynical way by Oxfordshire County Council to boost some league tables. To make the Council look good. Nick Clegg has said that the policy would be monitored to check that local authorities were implementing it properly. Clearly they are not checking or Nick Clegg regards this kind of manipulation of the figures as an acceptable use.
Many young people who do not do so well at school will tell you that the only lessons they enjoy are P.E and art or music. (Mostly just P.E). So, Oxfordshire is taking these young people out of the one lesson they enjoy, making sure that their experience of school is totally unsatisfactory. And doing this in order to boost school performance figures. Central government appears to be conniving.
In addition this of course makes it clear to everyone in the school who are the young people in care / on free school meals, thus working to promote division rather than inclusion.
This is a typical example of manipulation for outcomes. This is what local authorities and government do with your money. They spend it on making themselves look relevant. With no thought of what is really good for people.