Schools are making increasingly good use of pupil premiums to help children from poorer backgrounds and also creating teacher jobs in the process, the schools watchdog has reported.
The pupil premium was introduced by the government in April 2011 to provide additional support for looked after children and those from low income families, with schools given the freedom to utilise the funding they are allocated as they consider best.
Following its report into the pupil premium last September, Ofsted visited almost 70 primary and secondary schools during the autumn term to assess how effectively they were using this funding.
It has now published a report in which it has praised the performance of many of the schools it visited, adding that they tended to share a number of characteristics in the ways that they used the pupil premiums.
These included analysing which pupils were underachieving and why and drawing on research and their own and other schools' experiences in order to identify which activities were likely to improve achievement.
Moreover, the schools in question tended to either allot their best performing teachers to teach intervention groups to improve maths and English, or else employ new teachers with good track records in raising attainment in these subjects.
Additionally, these institutions ensured those in teaching assistant jobs were highly trained and had a clear understanding of their role in helping children to achieve.
Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw commented: "It is vital that schools get this right.
"Every child who leaves school without the right qualifications faces a far more difficult path to fulfilling their potential and finding employment."
By contrast, those schools that fared less well in using the pupil premium also shared some traits, such as lacking clarity about the intended impact of the spending and not monitoring the quality and effects of interventions well enough.
Commenting on Ofsted's report, schools minister David Laws stressed the need to ensure children can succeed at school regardless of their backgrounds.
He praised the good practice the watchdog had found in many schools, but added that there was still a lot more that could be achieved.
However, National Union of Teachers general secretary Christine Blower warned that many schools had had to use pupil premium money to plug gaps caused by budgetary cuts and called on the government to better resource schools.
Posted by Charlotte Michaels