Extra funds to help poorer city pupils

GOVERNMENT funds to help disadvantaged Sheffield schoolchildren are to be almost doubled next year.

Children’s Minister Sarah Teather visited the city on Tuesday to reveal that its Pupil Premium payment will increase from £6.5m to £11.4m.

The payment is made to education authorities on the basis of numbers of pupils receiving free school meals. It will be increased and extended next year to cover an extra 5,600 Sheffield pupils who have been registered during the past six years, as well as those currently receiving free meals.

At the same time, there has been concern from some schools they are not receiving as much money as they should because of parents’ reluctance to claim the free meals.

Liberal Democrat MP Ms Teather said: “Additional tuition, better IT resources and closer work with parents are all examples of how the Pupil Premium is being used to support the most disadvantaged pupils.”

But Brightside and Hillsborough MP and former Labour Education Secretary David Blunkett said: “I would be all for the Pupil Premium if it was extra money but it appears to be using money recouped from a 2.5% cut to school budgets and withdrawal of funding for local education authorities to provide educational support.”