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School budgets get boost with widened pupil premium

12/12/2011 Joanna
New teaching jobs could become available with the government set to announce an extension of the pupil premium, which will see the budgets of schools with pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds boosted.

Around half a million extra children will be made eligible for the pupil premium under the new government plans.

The pupil premium provides schools with £488 per year in additional funding for each child from a disadvantaged background.

While presently this is considered to be any child currently receiving free school meals, the Department for Education (DfE) is set to make any child who has received them within the last six years eligible.

Liberal Democrat MP and children's minister Sarah Teather said that widening the availability of the pupil premium will help schools to combat inequality.

"In a fair society, it's the government's responsibility to close the gulf in achievement, where the poorest children are less likely to leave school with five good GCSEs than their less-deprived classmates," she said.

"It will help schools tackle the inequalities that have been a part of our state system for far too long.

"Thousands of children will finally be getting the extra support they need to succeed."

This year, the scheme is worth £625 million and is expected to rise to some £2.5 billion per year come 2014-15.

The government has said it is widening availability to the pupil premium as research indicated that children who have at some point been eligible for free school meals consistently achieve below the level of those who have never been eligible, the BBC reported.

Children who are eligible for free school meals but do not claim them will also be included in the new widened approach of the pupil premium.

Minister for schools Nick Gibb meanwhile is preparing to reveal recommendations for a new "master teacher qualification" that will recognise the very best teachers.

Last week, the DfE announced a new qualification for head teachers in England.

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