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Pupil Premium Plus for Foster Carer Families

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What is Pupil Premium Plus?

Pupil Premium began in 2011 for children eligible for free school meals, children whose parents serve in the armed forces and children in care; its purpose was to close the attainment gap between these groups and their peers. Pupil Premium amounts vary across each local authority in England (see attached for breakdown to determine amount for your placing authority). The local authority can pool any amount of looked after children PP to fund activities that will benefit a group, or all, of the authority’s looked after children. Any pupil premium held centrally must not be used to fund services that the local authority is responsible for funding, such as support for foster carers, school uniforms or transport to get the child to school.

In 2013 the Department for Education (DfE) introduced Pupil Premium Plus for looked after and previously looked after children. In doing this, the DfE acknowledged the enduring impact of trauma and loss in children’s lives and the key role of schools in supporting children who have had a difficult start in life. Pupil premium plus amounts vary across each local authority in England, your placing local authority will know exact amounts for your region/s. Schools may also use a portion of funds to support pupils who do not meet any of the PP eligibility criteria where they deem it beneficial to do so.

Who is eligible for Pupil Premium Plus?
Pupil Premium Plus is available to pupils from reception age to Year 11 in state funded education in England who:
• Are in local authority care in England.
• Have been adopted from care in England or Wales.
• Left care under a Special Guardianship Order (SGO).
• Left care under a Child Arrangements Order (formerly known as a Residence Order). In respect of children adopted from care, the Pupil Premium Plus was initially restricted to children adopted on or after 30 December 2005 but in the summer of 2014 was extended to all children adopted from care.
Pupils must be attending either:
• A local authority maintained school or maintained special school.
• An academy or free school.
• A non-maintained special school, an independent school and other alternative provision (e.g. home educated) where the place or provision is funded by the local authority.

How is funding accessed?
In order for schools to access the funding, parents/carers must provide evidence to the school; for example, a copy of the legal order, or a confirmation letter from the local authority which placed the child. Parents/carers should not need to declare their child’s status again until the child changes school. The onus lays on the school to progress accessing funding.

What is the money for?
The DfE has said that it intends the funding to be spent on: ‘…helping children emotionally, socially and educationally by providing specific support to raise their attainment and address their wider needs.’ The focus on children’s social and emotional and wider needs is in contrast to the Pupil Premium for children eligible for free school meals, which is focused on closing the attainment gap.

The money is not ring fenced and does not have to be spent on the individual child. The DfE has said that it has introduced this flexibility so that schools can get maximum impact from the funding and so that children who change schools are not disadvantaged. In deciding how to use the Pupil Premium Plus, schools will want to understand and take account of the particular needs of looked after and previously looked after children, as these may be additional to or different from the needs of children who attract the Pupil Premium because they are from financially deprived family circumstances; for example, financial subsidies such as school trips and clubs may not address the needs of previously looked after children.
The DfE has clearly said that the funding should not be used to supplement the general school budget, or to support other groups of pupils such as those with special educational needs or who are low attaining. Some children who are eligible for Pupil Premium Plus will have special educational needs or low attainment, but these are needs which should be met through the usual or additional funding streams available to the school. In such instances The National Tutoring Programme (sent to via email earlier) can be part funded by education and by PP+.

Who decides how the funding is spent?
It is up to each individual school to decide how to spend the money. The DfE has clearly stated that it is good practice to consult parents and carers when making the decision. It is strongly recommend that schools separate their pupil premium and pupil premium plus spending , since the needs of the two groups are different. The Virtual School uses its expertise to guide the decision making process on the best use of the pupil premium funding. Schools have welcomed this direction from the Virtual School. The effectiveness of the spending is then monitored across the LAs schools. Every decision about spending should begin with a good understanding of each child’s needs. Personal Education Plans, a format used for children in care, are ideal for gathering the views of the child, carer/parents, school and social worker. This shared understanding of the child’s needs makes it possible to identify the intervention needed to support the child needs, which then informs Pupil Premium Plus spending.
The PEP is also an excellent conduit for the school and family to work together. In some instances an Educational Psychology assessment of the child’s strengths and needs may be helpful to inform this process. It might be possible to use Pupil Premium Plus to commission such an assessment from the LA’s Educational Psychology Service. The DfE has also suggested that the funding could be partially used for training members of school staff in how to recognise and support children who have experienced trauma and loss and are exhibiting the following:

  • Poor attachment relationships with adults
  • Appropriately managing their peer relationships
  • Managing their feelings and behaviour
  • Coping with transitions
  • Underdeveloped executive functioning skills.

If you want to find out more about this valuable resource please speak to your child’s school, your SSW or access gov.uk website.

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