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Monday, November 17, 2014

Welsh Liberal Democrats' Pupil Premium is delivering for deprived pupils

The Western Mail has a heartening story today in which they report that the pupil deprivation fund, insisted upon by the Welsh Liberal Democrats as part of budget negotiations, and designed to support Wales’ poorest pupils, is having a “positive impact” and “plays an important role” in helping to break the link between poverty and low attainment:

An evaluation of the Pupil Deprivation Grant (PDG) found its introduction had led to “a significant amount of new activity” aimed at supporting pupils identified as being disadvantaged.

Independent researchers Ipsos MORI and the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods (Wiserd) said the PDG had helped to engender a greater focus on disadvantaged pupils and how best to provide for them.

But while support for the PDG was overwhelmingly positive, the report warned that there was “considerable variation” in the scale and reach of programmes funded using the grant.

It said there was “some ambiguity” about how the PDG should be targeted and impact analysis was inconclusive, with improvements in pupil attainment appearing to pre-date its introduction.

The report said: “The introduction of the PDG has led to schools funding a significant amount of new activity aimed at supporting pupils they identify as disadvantaged. Over half the interventions currently funded using the PDG (58% in primary, 71% in secondary schools) were not run in schools prior to the PDG’s introduction.

“Even where activity pre-dated the PDG, it has usually been scaled up as a result of the additional funding available to schools. However, there is a considerable variation in the scale and reach of programmes funded using the PDG, particularly at the secondary level.”

Next year this grant will rise to £1,050 per pupil and then £1,150 per pupil the year afterwards. It is a sign that even in opposition the Welsh Liberal Democrats can deliver on their manifesto priorities and get things done.

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