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Pupil premium

What is the pupil premium?

The pupil premium grant (PPG) is a government scheme covering all state-funded schools in England. Qualifying schools receive extra funding in line with the number of disadvantaged pupils they have in attendance.

What is the purpose of pupil premium?

The scheme was introduced to help tackle the ‘attainment gap’ (which is the recognised and significant negative difference in academic outcomes between different groups of pupils, such as those from disadvantaged backgrounds compared to their more affluent peers, as well as those who historically do less well, such as pupils from some ethnic minority groups and those who have had a traumatic childhood). The extra financial support of the PPG is aimed at helping disadvantaged pupils have the same opportunities for educational achievement.

How much is the pupil premium worth?

  • Primary schools receive £1,320 per year for each pupil qualifying for pupil premium.
  • In secondary schools, the amount is £935 per pupil.
  • Schools receive an extra premium of £1,900 for pupils who are or have been in local authority (LA) care. This is known as pupil premium plus - see later section for details. 
  • Children with one or more parents who have worked in the armed forces qualify for £300 each, if the parent is currently serving or is in receipt of a service pension.

What are the qualifying criteria for pupil premium?

It used to be the case that pupils who qualified for free school meals were eligible to be counted for pupil premium. Check your local council’s website for the most up-to-date and region-specific information, but general criteria include parents who are in receipt of any of the following welfare benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

Note: these pupil premium qualifying criteria do not apply to pupil premium plus - see later section. 

Who is paid the pupil premium?

The government funds schools their PPG amount directly, four times a year, based on information they have received from the school on numbers of eligible pupils on their register for that year. The money is not given to children, parents or families directly.

How do schools spend the PPG?

The school is obliged to spend the grant on ways that directly benefit its pupils, or the wider school community. This can mean funding additional individual and small group tuition; additional teaching staff for the school; opening bids for specific funding needs from subject leaders; offering spelling and punctuation sessions; providing additional literacy tuition; employing an education welfare officer to help raise attendance levels; creating after-school study areas through to supplying text books and other learning materials and offering a summer sports camp. For more details, see Ofsted's Pupil Premium report.

What about academies?

Schools that are academies from 1st April 2016 receive their PPG directly from the Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), which is an executive agency sponsored by the Department for Education responsible for education funding. Local authorities (LAs) should pay PPG to schools due to convert to academy status. As with LAs, free schools and academies are paid their PPG on a quarterly basis.

Pupil premium plus

The pupil premium plus, or pp+ (sometimes also called enhanced pupil premium) scheme was launched by the DfE in 2013 to meet the specific needs of looked after and previously looked after children. This acknowledged the extra support needed by children who have experienced trauma and loss, and the role schools play in nurturing their development. 


The current rate of pp+ is £1,900 per child.


Pupil premium plus covers all years of education in state-funded schools in England. It is paid to schools for each pupil who:

  • is in local authority care
  • has been adopted from care in England or Wales at any time
  • left care under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO)
  • left care under a Child Arrangements Order (formerly known as a Residence

Children who are educated at home or attend private schools are not currently eligible for pupil premium plus. None of the criteria for standard pupil premium apply for the pupil premium plus, which is not means-tested, and is available for children of any socio-economic background where parents can declare their child’s adopted/SGO status to the school. This is normally done ahead of the January census in order for the school to include the information and receive the PP+.

How can schools spend their pupil premium plus grant?

According to DfE guidelines, the funding must be used for, ‘...helping adopted children emotionally, socially and educationally by providing specific support to raise their attainment and address their wider needs.’

This means that the funding must be used to offer social and emotional support, in contrast to pupil premium, which is allocated owing to disadvantage with the intention of closing the attainment gap for pupils from lower socio-economic backgrounds. The money does not have to be spent on an individual child, and may go towards staff training or other ways to improve the social, emotional and academic development of looked after and previously looked after children.

When was the pupil premium created?

The Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government enacted the pupil premium in 2011. The per pupil allocation amount has steadily risen since the scheme's introduction and has remained in place. Pupil premium plus began in 2013. 

Will the PPG be affected by the 2017 General Election?

It seems likely that the current arrangement will stay in place. The Conservatives’ manifesto says that the Pupil Premium will be protected "to support those who need it". The Labour manifesto doesn't explicitly mention the existing PPG but promises to introduce "an arts pupil premium to every primary school in England".

Will the PPG be affected if the new national funding formula is introduced?

No. The current policy is that the PPG will remain in place, and stay separate from the national funding formula budget. The amount per pupil from 2018 has yet to be announced. See our guidance for more on the proposed new national funding formula.

Reviewed: January 2018

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