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Fairer funding and feeding

Auto-enrolment proposed for free school meals and pupil premium, as government debates inequality in education

Posted by Stephanie Broad | January 13, 2016 | Law, finance, HR

As the Work and Pensions Committee publishes a report on the welfare safety net, former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg will be speaking on inequality in education. The two topics are linked, says Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT).

Since the introduction of universal infant free school meals (UIFSM), schools have struggled to get parents to continue to sign up for the scheme, in order for the school receives Pupil Premium funding. 

NAHT says automatic enrolment for the Pupil Premium would help towards ending inequality in education, as well as reducing administration. 

“During the last parliament, the Liberal Democrats and the Coalition government were responsible for introducing the Pupil Premium, one of the most significant attempts to break the stubborn link between disadvantage and educational underachievement,” says Hobby.

“Now the Pupil Premium looks set to stay, let’s make sure all children eligible for it actually receive it. Currently large numbers of families do not claim. Automatic registration, rather than forcing schools to chase parents to disclose their eligibility, could increase take up significantly, reduce bureaucracy and help cash-strapped families.

“The government says that there are over a million more children being taught in good or outstanding schools. This is down to the hard work of teachers and school leaders. For this improvement to continue sufficient funding is essential. The costs schools face are rising, yet investment in schools is falling in real terms. It would be wrong to hold schools to account for narrowing the gap while withdrawing the resources required to do so. Auto-registration for the Pupil Premium is one simple way to make sure help gets to the children who need it most.”

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