Pupil Premium spending:

School leaders can use it to reduce low attendance in schools and close the disadvantage gap

17 April 2024
Pupil Premium spending

Experts from the education and charity sector recently met at The National Pupil Premium Event 2024: Improving Outcomes for Disadvantaged Children to discuss the latest strategies and initiatives to use pupil premium to reduce low attendance in schools and close the disadvantage gap.

In March 2023, the Department for Education announced a five per cent increase in pupil premium funding for the 2023-24 academic year. Inflation means that in reality this is only a two per cent increase, just one way that the cost-of-living crisis is affecting education for disadvantaged students. Following the further widening of the disadvantage gap it is vital to make sure that pupil premium works for all students.

Janeen Hayat, Director of Collective Action at the Fair Education Alliance, emphasised the importance of multi-agency approaches to maximising pupil premium spend including:

  • Creating collaborative networks between schools and external organisations to share best practice on spending pupil premium grants
  • Advice for how schools and local charities can develop their relationships to improve attendance in schools and outcomes for disadvantaged students
  • Tips for identifying scalable multi-agency initiatives that can be adopted to reduce educational inequality
  • Engaging parents and carers, and the wider community, to ensure support for disadvantaged children outside of school


Janeen highlighted School-Home Support’s work with families to improve low attendance in schools.

Our response to the national school attendance crisis which sees 1.5 million children missing enough school to severely affect their education and life chances is reaching more children and families via early help and whole family support. 

School-Home Support’s ambitious strategy to reduce low attendance in schools involves supporting more schools to embed our best practice model and approach to tackling absence through early intervention and whole family support. 

By sharing best practice on how to use pupil premium to reduce low school attendance, school leaders can build on their existing measures and successes to support disadvantaged students to reach their full potential.

Key facts to note:

  • 23.8% of pupils are eligible for free school meals in 2023, up from 22.5% in 2022, according to the School Census 2023
  • According to the Department for Education, GCSE students eligible for free school meals are 27% less likely to achieve good passes in English and maths than their peers.
  • In 2021, the disadvantage gap for GCSE pupils widened by 0.1, bringing the gap to 1.34 grades according to the Education Policy Institute.
  • Pupil Premium spending totalled £2.9billion in 2023-24 (Department for Education, 2023)
  • Pupil Premium Children are three times more likely to be absent from school