Plymouth City Council has warned it will have to find an additional £500k to help support vulnerable children, because of a shortfall in central government funding.
According to the local authority, the government has used old data-sets to calculate the amount that Plymouth should receive under the pupil premium grant support scheme.
As a result, it has to find in excess of £500k to cover the gap.
The pupil premium grant supports children, such as those from low-income families and have been entitled to free school meals, children of service personals and those who are looked after.
The council’s cabinet member for education, skills and transformation, Cllr Jon Taylor has now written to education secretary Gavin Williamson and urged him to reconsider the amount of money given to the local authority.
‘In an average year Plymouth would normally have approved approximately 1,500 new applications for free school meals,’ writes Cllr Taylor.
‘However, this year, we have seen this number rise to over 2000. It is clear that many more families in our City are struggling to make ends meet.
‘In Plymouth, we have seen over 400 additional applications for pupil premium. However, as the Government based its calculation on outdated school data, there is a huge gap in the funding allocation. The result is that the Plymouth will lose in excess of £500k. This is money that could have been spent on supporting Plymouth children in the classroom with additional resources and extra teaching assistants.
‘We cannot simply stand by and let this go unchallenged – we would urge the Government to reconsider their decision and use the most up to date datasets to calculate pupil premium eligibility. In whatever decision the Ministers are making at these transitional times, the Government must make sure that our children and their needs are central to our national recovery plans,’ added Cllr Taylor.
In response, a Department for Education spokesperson said: ‘We are committed to ensuring every pupil gets an excellent education, no matter their background. That’s why we continue to allocate pupil premium funding to schools at unchanged per-pupil rates, alongside significant new catch-up and recovery funding.
‘Using the October census for pupil premium allocation means schools will know their budget earlier in the year, helping them to plan ahead. We expect pupil premium funding to increase to more than £2.5 billion in 2021-22, reflecting an increase in the number of eligible pupils.’
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