Commenting on a new report by the National Foundation For Educational Research (NFER) warning that changes to free school meals (FSM) eligibility will make tracking progress of disadvantage pupils ‘almost impossible’, Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:
“It is both clear and deeply concerning that Covid-19 has led to a sharp increase in the number of families living in poverty. As this report shows, many of the children and young people who have become eligible during recent years are disproportionately drawn from more disadvantaged areas and are those who already needed additional support from schools. It’s quite right that these pupils attract additional funding so that schools have the resources they need to meet their needs, even though this will make comparison – and therefore tracking progress – harder.
“The erosion in the value of pupil premium funding for disadvantaged pupils highlighted in this report is another major concern. Despite recent announcements, it is clear that this funding will be less in real terms than it was in 2015 on a per pupil basis. This, coupled with the government’s decision to divert funding away from schools serving more disadvantaged communities, raises serious questions about its commitment to levelling-up and providing support for the pupils and families that need it the most.”
First published 18 January 2022