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Schools to benefit from £7m windfall
DISADVANTAGED primary students in Swindon will benefit from an extra £7.8m next year, designed to help bridge the gap between them and their better-off peers.
The money is being made available through The Pupil Premium, which is additional funding given to schools to help them support their disadvantaged pupils. The cash pays for stationary boxes for pupils, educational visits and after school activities.
The Government gave £1.875bn in 2013-14, with schools attracting £900 per child, with an additional payment of £53 for primary-aged pupils.
It has been revealed that for 2014-15, the funding will rise to £2.5bn, with £1,300 for primary-aged pupils, £935 for secondary-aged pupils and £1,900 for all looked-after children, adopted children and children with guardians.
Haydon Wick Primary School headteacher Simon Cowley said approximately 17 per cent of pupils at his school use the grant.
“We look at what each individual need of our pupils is, then we spend the money accordingly to help them reach their full potential,” said Mr Cowley.
“We are pleased with the extra funding but it is still quite a small proportion of the overall school budget.”
He said the money is spent in a variety of ways including assigning students with extra teaching assistants.
But headteacher at Isambard Community School, Rachel Mattey, said she was disappointed secondary school pupils would not benefit from any extra funding.
“It is an important grant, it helps take the pressure off for parents,” said Mrs Mattey. “Primary schools will see a big increase whereas we will get the same as last year.”
She said a special centre which works one-on-one with pupils to teach them the basics in maths and English would not be possible without the funding.
North Swindon MP Justin Tomlinson welcomed the announcement.
“This is excellent news for disadvantaged pupils and their families in Swindon, providing local schools the support they need to ensure that every child, regardless of their background, can fulfil their potential,” he said.
“I have seen first-hand as I have visited the local schools in my constituency just how this is transforming opportunity, driving up standards and helping equip the next generation of workers with the skills and knowledge needed to make a positive contribution to society.”
Last week an Ofsted report revealed Swindon’s poorest were being let down by the education system with barely a quarter of pupils eligible for free school meals achieving five good GCSEs which is well below the national average.
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