Pupil premium

Pupil premium allocations delayed by ‘problem’ identifying children

But DfE insists it will 'not impact the timeline for payments in July 2024'

But DfE insists it will 'not impact the timeline for payments in July 2024'

A magnifying glass over money

Schools will have to wait until May to find out their pupil premium funding allocations for the 2024-25 financial year, the Department for Education has said.

In an update published online today, the department said it had been “made aware of a problem with its identification of reception aged pupils who qualify for pupil premium”.

“This means it needs more time to ensure that the 2024 to 2025 pupil premium allocations are accurate and we will now publish the initial allocations, the week commencing Monday May 6.”

The page previously stated that the grant allocations would be published “in March 2024”, which ends in five days.

Pupil premium funding is worth between £1,035 and £2,530 per pupil, and is paid to schools for children who have been eligible for free school meals at any point in the past six years, as well as looked-after and previously-looked-after children.

The grant will be worth £2.9 billion to schools in 2024-25.

The DfE today insisted that the delay to published allocations would “not impact the timeline for payments in July 2024”.

“We hope that this does not cause any disruption to your planning for the academic year.”

Final allocations for the current financial year, which ends next week, will be published “by the end of March 2024 as planned”.

Schools have been told to “contact the customer help centre if you have any questions”.

‘Concerning trend of delays’

Paul Whiteman, general secretary at school leaders’ union NAHT, said it was “difficult to understand how this problem has only just emerged when the data used is from October’s school census”.

Schools “should be able to tell from their own census returns which pupils are eligible, and therefore what their allocation is going to be”.

“But this does represent the continuation of a concerning trend of delays when it comes to the Department for Education announcing funding allocations, and this seems to be getting worse every year.”

He warned leaders still did not have school-level allocations for 2024 for “of the teachers’ pay additional grant, teachers’ pension grant, universal infant free school meals funding – nor even a per pupil amount for this – or the PE and sport premium grant”.

“School leaders shouldn’t have to guess how much funding they’re going to get, and this adds unnecessary stress and workload.”

Geoff Barton, general secretary at ASCL school leaders’ union, said any delay is “frustrating” as it makes it “even more difficult for schools to be able to plan their budgets”.

Geoff Barton
Geoff Barton

“However, it is clearly important that the allocations are accurate and, grudgingly, we suppose a delay is preferable to an error.”

He said he imagined the DfE is “particularly conscious of the danger of a mistake following the error last autumn in calculating the national funding formula allocations which resulted in schools being given lower per-pupil funding than they were originally told they would receive”.

“That sort of mistake simply cannot be allowed to happen again.”

The DfE has refused to explain what problem affected the identification of eligible pupils, but said “data and timings for other funding allocations for 2024-25 are unaffected”.

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