Pupil premium: how it works and the best ways to spend it

Pupil premium is a fund introduced by the Department for Education in 2011 with the aim to improve the education of all pupils. How it gets used is up to the school – they’re each given the scope to choose how best to use this fund to help their pupils.

But what’s the best way to spend it? Here’s a run-down of how it works and how you can use pupil premium to help your pupils achieve their best in exams and beyond. You can also take a look at this article for other creative ways to spend your pupil premium.

How does pupil premium work in secondary schools?

Secondary schools are allocated an annual £935 per pupil on free school meals. This is to help narrow the gap between children of different socio-economic backgrounds, with the view to helping everyone do better as a result of the school being supported.

Although the way schools spend their pupil premium budget is monitored by the government, schools are left to decide how they use their fund themselves. While it’s great that you can choose what’s best for your pupils, we know the pressure to get positive results, along with all the other challenges our schools face today, means deciding how to spend your pupil premium budget is no mean feat.

Create a pupil premium action plan

When deciding how to use your school’s pupil premium budget in the coming year, the first step is to make a solid plan. Here are some top tips:

  • Identify who’s struggling. Before you make any changes, gathering data about all pupils’ grades and behaviour will let you make accurate decisions about how to distribute your funding across the school.
  • For those who are struggling, find out what’s blocking them from doing as well as higher-achieving pupils.
  • With this information, you can research pupil premium initiatives and strategies to directly address the pupils who need it most, in exactly the ways that will help them.
  • Continuing to monitor the progress of all pupils for improvement and a narrowing of the attainment gap. Anything you learn now can inform further changes you make in the future.  

What can pupil premium be spent on?

There are lots of creative ways that schools have used pupil premium funding to help their disadvantaged pupils. Along with spending strategies, having an ethos of ambitious achievements and high attainment across the school, enforced by all teachers is key to making the most of the resources at hand.

But what can schools spend pupil premium on that actually improves pupils’ learning? Here are six top ways to achieve this with your pupil premium funding:

  1. Stationery – it’s amazing the difference that a pencil case, pencils, highlighters, a study diary and extra notebooks make to pupils who wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford it. By giving them the tools to get organised, you instill a sense of importance in doing so, and increase the chances that they’ll be able to manage the workload their teachers give them.
  2. Away days – sometimes the most formative learning experiences happen outside the classroom. To get out of the regular routine of daily classes, a school trip to a university or interesting workplace can work wonders to boost your pupils’ aspirations. By seeing these places, they’re more likely to imagine themselves there and consider a more ambitious future.  
  3. Extra-curricular activities – not everyone finds their passion in academic subjects, but if school can help them find what they love, that can motivate them to get the results they’ll need for college entrance or a job application.
  4. Peer-to-peer mentoring – one of the teachers we’ve worked with tried this at her school, where 6th formers would meet with pupils in year 8 and 9 in the library once a week to help mentor them in Maths, English and the Sciences. She told us she was “overwhelmed with how positive this programme has been” and “the response from the students has been incredibly positive”.
  5. TA training – to give your teachers and pupils extra support, upskilling Teaching Assistants so they can work with pupils in small groups or one-to-one. Depending on what you think is best, they can work with kids who need help to keep up with the pace of the class, or high potential pupils who’ll benefit from being pushed that bit further.
  6. One-to-one tuition – with our in-school programme, we provide online one-to-one lessons for pupils. By working closely with schools, our friendly and high-achieving tutors support classroom learning in a way that’s tailored exactly to the pupils’ needs.  

one-to-one tuition

How MyTutor works with schools

Since we were founded in 2013, we’ve provided one-to-one online tuition in over 350 schools. The schools tend to pay for this using part of their pupil premium funds to give every pupil a better chance to boost their grades. We work directly with teachers to make sure tutorials reinforce classroom learning. The one-to-one time a pupil gets with a tutor supplements the time their teacher spends with everyone in class. Anything pupils were too shy to ask in class, or a topic they couldn’t grasp at the pace of teaching can be looked over and resolved in the personal setting of our online classroom.

We have thousands of excellent tutors across the UK who love helping school pupils do their best. They’re all at top UK universities, so as well as being super-friendly and high academic achievers, they also act as personal mentors for each of the pupils who they help. Especially for kids who don’t know anyone else who’s been to university, one-to-one tutorials work to boost aspirations and confidence while helping with tricky topics and exam revision.

You really see the results

In just a term’s worth of lessons, we see an average of a whole grade’s improvement (often more) per pupil. The teachers we’ve worked with have been really happy with the results they’ve seen too. Laura Toovey, the Assistant Head of Tring School in Hertfordshire, told us,

“The reason we started to use MyTutor is because I believe you need to try something different. It was recommended to us by someone who’d already used it, and we thought let’s give it a go and see what happens. We started with a group of 20, and very quickly we grew to a group of 40 and it’s been fantastic.”

At MyTutor, we want to keep helping as many students as possible achieve their full potential. If you’d like to find out more about using MyTutor in your school, email richard@mytutor.co.uk or call us on 0203 773 6020.


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