WITH unemployment on the rise during the pandemic Warrington Borough Council Cabinet members are calling for the Government to reconsider pupil premium funding for disadvantaged children.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Russ Bowden and Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Matt Smith, have written to government to express their concerns about how a section of school funding is to be calculated from April.
The funding in question, the pupil premium, is additional money provided to schools to support disadvantaged children, such as those from low-income families who may face extra challenges in reaching their potential at school, to help improve their educational attainment.
The number of children nationally who are eligible for this funding has increased during the pandemic as unemployment across the country has been increasing. However, the latest funding calculation – the formula for distributing the pupil premium – is set to be based on school data from October 2020, rather than using January 2021 data which is available.
By using the data available from January, more funding would have been available for Warrington in line with the number of eligible children having increased since October last year.
Cllrs Bowden and Smith said: “In a week where the Institute of Fiscal Studies announced a ‘crisis in lost learning’ and outlines the impact of time out of school on disadvantaged children, it is critical that schools are properly funded to address these issues.
“We are therefore disappointed to see that the government has chosen to change its normal calculation to instead use outdated information from October 2020, at a time when Warrington’s most vulnerable children need the most support.
“We are working closely with council officers to ensure that our children and young people have access to the best possible opportunities despite the difficulties of the pandemic. Our schools have adapted brilliantly to online learning, but further work is needed to address the long-term educational impacts of the pandemic’s lockdowns.
“We are urging the government to make sure that our children are central to our national recovery plans, and are asking them to reconsider what datasets are used to calculate pupil premium eligibility. We understand that the government would like to try to bring the pupil premium in line with how other components of the core schools budget is calculated but right now, in the midst of a global pandemic, changing the formula will disadvantage some of our most vulnerable children. It is simply not the right time.
“Using the January 2021 census data will ensure that the greatest number of children can benefit from this additional funding and support.”