Is your child benefiting from the Service Pupil Premium

I was wondering if anyone had any examples of how their children's school was putting the £300 the school receives per Service child to use? As far as I can see at my child's school the money has just gone in to the school pot and nothing specific has been done to help Service children. The only activity is the occasional lesson where the children can talk to other Service children about their Serving parent/parents. Being in the South-West we have 'HMS Hero's' but that is independent of the SPP and is run by the British Legion see HMS Heroes - The Royal British Legion.

There must be at least 10 children in our school bringing an income of £3000 a year and I'm very disappointed that there is nothing to show for it. If your school has spent the money on some ingenious schemes and useful practises to help your child please let me know so we can spread the word.

I have attached an abbreviated extract from the House of Commons Parliamentary publications on the SPP as I was shocked to read that awareness of the SPP was lowest in the Royal Marines out of all the Services. In the survey nearly 60% of those asked did not know what the money was spent on and only 14% did know. This is not good, take the 9 years your child is at school multiplied by the 52,000 service children getting £300 a year, that's a lot of money our children aren't seeing the benefit from when they need it.

The Department of Education's example of how the money can be utilised by schools is very vague and says - (please see point 91. in the Parliament publication below) 'The Service Pupil Premium has been put to good use in many schools across England. For example, South Farnborough Infant School in Hampshire has used the funding to purchase books for their library which have been written by parents who had previously been deployed. The school is also setting up a ‘nurture’ room where children of service personnel can meet other such children to talk through their experiences or concerns, with a member of staff known as a ‘smile’ mentor. The mentor will help the children express their feelings.'

Please note also that in point 93. below, Ofsted will be strengthening their inspections to report on the performance in English and mathematics of pupils supported by the SPP from February 2013. As this is the case I will be expecting to see some additional input from the school towards supporting my child to achieve good results.

House of Commons - The Armed Forces Covenant in Action? Part 3: Educating the Children of Service Personnel - Defence Committee

Service Pupil Premium
89. ....The Service Pupil Premium is paid directly to schools in England to support Service children on their register. The premium increased from £250 to £300 per pupil per year from April 2013. Schools can spend this money as they see fit. The Premium is part of the Government's commitments made in the Armed Forces Covenant. Martin Bull said:
'The Pupil Premium is there to help schools and mobility, and that is based on the number of children in the school census identified as Service children. It is there to be used to help induct that child and get that child's curriculum up to speed, so that they can go straight into class and not learn about the Tudors three times. It is there to help them with social, emotional and pastoral needs. It has increased reasonably over the years since we introduced it. There is a strong commitment for us to retain that Service Premium. The money is there per pupil: it is £300 this year, ....'

90. Evidence we heard from parents at the Wellington Academy at Tidworth, the Families Federations and the on-line survey indicates that not all parents are aware of the premium, or are not aware of how it is spent. Bill Mahon said:
'Our evidence is that a majority of families have not heard of the Service Pupil Premium, and do not know what it is for. .....'
And the RAF Families Federation told us that:
'Comments have also been made about the way that the funds are being spent, with many parents asking how their schools should be using the funding to best support Service children. While many schools are already making the best use of these funds, and sharing best practice with others, we have received evidence to the contrary from other young Service family members. One told that her school had spent the funds on arts supplies while another had organised a trip just for the Service children but this then caused problems with the non-Service children, who challenged why they were being treated as a special case.
The NAO told us that:
'72 per cent of respondents were aware of the Service Premium. Awareness was lowest among Royal Marines families at 58 per cent and highest among Royal Air Force families 79 per cent.
However, of the 718 respondents who were aware of the Premium, only 14 per cent (102 parents) knew how their children's school spent this additional money, and 58 per cent (415) did not know how the Premium was spent. Of the 102 parents who knew how their children's school spent the Premium, the majority (80 per cent) thought that the money was helpful to the Service children at the school, with 41 per cent saying that it was 'very' and 39 per cent that it was 'fairly' helpful.

91. The DfE gave us a range of examples of how the Service Pupil Premium funds had been used. It also provided examples of its use on its website. see For example, many schools use the additional funds to provide pastoral care and support for children whose Service parent may be on operations. Martin Bull said:
'The DFE worked with the MoD and wrote to about 1,000 schools known to us to have high numbers of Service children on the roll and we gathered case studies. [...] A head teacher might offer one-to-one tuition to help the child catch up in terms of the curriculum. It might be used to help induct them and provide a smooth transition from a school abroad to the new school. There might be support for a buddy system. Another example relates to Special Educational Needs SEN see Special educational needs (SEN) - Schools and whether support is needed around SEN for a child, so there is immediate support if the child arrived really quickly and was not known about in advance. It has been used a number of different ways.'

93. Ofsted told us:
'from February 2013, inspectors will report specifically on the performance in English and mathematics of pupils supported through the pupil premium compared to all other pupils in the school. Inspectors will highlight any differences between the average point scores for English and mathematics and whether gaps are narrowing for [...] children of service families and all other pupils.'

94. We note that Ofsted have strengthened their inspections to report on performance in English and mathematics of pupils supported by the Pupil Premium from February 2013. But we look for more evaluation of spending on the Service Pupil Premium and evidence that this funding is used to support Service children in the particular problems they face, for example the provision of pastoral care when a parent is deployed on operations; difficulties a child may experience when they change schools part way through a school year, or where there are conflicts over the curriculum between the new and old school, and gaps may need to be filled.

95. We support the payment of the Service Pupil Premium to support Service children. However, we are not convinced that this expenditure is adequately monitored for value for money for the taxpayer, and to ensure that it is used to the best possible advantage to the Service children themselves. The Government should introduce guidelines on how the Service Pupil Premium should be spent. It should also require schools to make more transparent how this money is spent. The Government should monitor and publish this information and share examples of best practice.

It would be lovely to hear from anyone with example of things their school has put in to practise or any ideas you may have as I will be making an appointment to see my child's Head Teacher to find out what she is doing with the money and will post the result. Perhaps you could ask your child's Head Teacher too, the more awareness the better. Please also make other parents aware of the premium.

If you have read this far many thanks!

I have also posted this on the RNCom forum under Navy -General Discussion, and Royal Marines.
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