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Assessing the impact of Pupil Premium funding on primary school segregation and attainment

Gorard, S. and Siddiqui, N. and See, H. B. (2021) 'Assessing the impact of Pupil Premium funding on primary school segregation and attainment.', Research papers in education. .


Using funding to improve educational outcomes is a common policy approach, usually assumed to be effective; but it is less commonly agreed how the money should be routed, and what it should be used for. This paper examines the possible impact of one approach wherein extra funding is provided by the state to schools, rather than teachers, families, or students. Pupil Premium funding has been provided to schools in England since 2011, to help overcome socio-economic segregation between schools, and reduce the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers. Yet there is little international evidence that such a funding system can raise attainment directly. Some important stakeholders are now considering whether Pupil Premium should cease, be used for more general school financing, or have a new objective such as social mobility or hiring more teachers. It is therefore essential to know whether the policy has had a beneficial impact in the nine years since its inception. Evaluating the impact of such a funding policy is not easy because it is national and so there is no simple comparator group, and the relevant outcomes are also sensitive to demographic, economic and other concurrent policy changes. These issues are addressed using the National Pupil Database and Annual Schools Census, and by comparing the poverty gap in primary schools from 2006 to 2019, focusing on pupils who would have attracted Pupil Premium funding, if it existed, in any year and under any economic conditions. After 2010, the gap in segregation between these long-term disadvantaged pupils and their peers became substantially lower in Year 1 and Year 6, and their attainment improved relative to their peers at age 7. At age 11 there was also an improvement after 2010, but the assessment changed after 2014 and this complicated the pattern. A regression model also suggests that relative attainment for poor pupils improved markedly in the Pupil Premium era. Improvement was marked in regions like the North of England which have faced criticism for apparently “failing” their poor pupils. On this evidence, we argue for retaining the Pupil Premium policy.

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Publisher statement:© 2021 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way
Date accepted:20 March 2021
Date deposited:22 March 2021
Date of first online publication:29 March 2021
Date first made open access:18 May 2021

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