A new report from The Young Foundation, supported by the Private Equity Foundation and Big Society Capital, says the £2.5 billion a year pupil premium is not being used effectively to raise the educational performance of the UK’s poorest pupils – and calls for social investment to be used to develop and deliver programmes with greater impact.
With £2.5bn funding available in 2014/2015, the pupil premium was created to directly tackle the education attainment gap; the 65% of pupils qualifying for free school meals who are leaving school without achieving of five A*-C grade GCSEs including English and maths.
The report recommends that the pupil premium should be focused on funding high impact programmes aimed at improving the number of pupils reaching these floor targets.
“Rather than plugging the hole in school budgets, the pupil premium should be used to close the attainment gap through utilising social enterprises that are offering alternative and effective ways to engage and support disadvantaged young people,” said Will Norman, Director of Research at The Young Foundation.
The report goes on to outline the opportunities for social investment in education, and identifies two further areas that would best benefit from a focus on social investment; Post-16 vocational education, and outcomes based commissioning targetting evidence-based interventions.
The report also flags up promising potential enterprises and interventions that are not yet in widespread use and makes recommendations for how best to enable their replication and scaling.
According to the report there are social entrepreneurs up and down the country who are successfully working in partnership with schools to raise attainment. These projects range from working with teachers to create structured interventions in literacy and numeracy, to developing programmes which provide students with rationalising and reasoning abilities for adulthood.
“These social enterprises form a best-in-class example of what can be achieved if the pupil premium is used correctly,” adds Will Norman from The Young Foundation.
“The pupil premium can be transformational if spent wisely on strategies which recognise the individual needs of the students and the barriers they face. No one approach will suit all students and the best schools are creative and flexible in harnessing the support needed for each child.” says Jo Dibb, Headteacher at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson school in North London
“There is huge potential for social investment to play a critical role in delivering educational outcomes, we need these social entrepreneurs to be working with more schools and reaching more pupils – social investment offers a means for them to build their organisations to do this,” says Nick O’Donohoe, Chief Executive of Big Society Capital.”
“Although the social investment market is in its early stages, it is growing. Our hope is that this report will be a catalyst for action - bringing together organisations with proven interventions, commissioners, investors and social intermediaries such as the Private Equity Foundation in the shared aim of raising the achievement and narrowing the attainment gap of some of the most disadvantaged young people in the UK,” says Rhian Johns, Director of Policy & Communications, Private Equity Foundation.