York’s Lib Dem councillors have expressed their concerns about a real term drop in Pupil Premium funding, which currently leaves disadvantaged children up to £160 worse off.
During the Covid-19 pandemic the number of children eligible for free school meals has jumped by about a fifth nationally, although numbers in York rose by nearly 30% to 3494 pupils in October 2021 (an increase of 773 since January 2020).
According to a National Foundation for Educational Research report, however, the value of this support has been eroded by inflation since 2015, so that primary and secondary schools now receive £160 and £127 respectively less per pupil in real terms.
Councillor Ian Cuthbertson has hit out at this loss of funding and is calling on the Government to commit to increasing the pupil premium in line with school-level inflation over the next five years. This will help build back better and support social mobility as we emerge from the pandemic.
Councillor Ian Cuthbertson, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Children, Young People and Education, commented:
“At a time when the attainment gap is widening and children from disadvantaged backgrounds have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, it is shameful to see that the Government is failing to offer the most basic support. The help that is now offered to families has been cut down to completely inadequate levels.
“This erosion of pupil premium funding is a major concern and raises serious questions about the Government’s commitment to levelling up and addressing the longer term consequences of the pandemic.
“The effects of poverty in childhood can both last a lifetime and have a big impact on education, a growing concern particularly now.
“The Government must act urgently to ensure that no child is held back as a result of poverty and support all children to thrive and learn. If we are to tackle the growing cost of living crisis and the attainment gap, our children need guaranteed ring-fenced funding which increases the pupil premium in line with inflation.”