Pupil Premium

Action Tutoring seeks to partner with schools where the percentage of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding is above the national average. This helps to ensure that our support is offered to where it’s needed most.

We aim for around 80% of the pupils we work with to be eligible for the Pupil Premium. We work closely with schools to ensure we’re supporting pupils who wouldn’t otherwise have access to tutoring.

What is Pupil Premium?

The Pupil Premium is a government programme implemented in 2011, following the publication of several research papers showing a significant gap between the educational performance of disadvantaged children and their more affluent peers. Schools receive additional funding for each pupil they have registered for free school meals.

The Government evaluates that the Pupil Premium is the best way to approach the current underlying inequalities between disadvantaged children and their peers. Disadvantaged pupils can often face additional challenges in school. These can include issues with attendance, a lack of confidence, and difficulty communicating with others.

Pupil Premium funding can’t be paid directly to parents or carers, but can be used by schools to give further support to their eligible pupils.

This attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers is exactly why Action Tutoring exists. A disproportionate amount of young people eligible for Pupil Premium leave school each year without basic qualifications in English and maths. Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t less capable to perform well in school. But, they aren’t always given the same tools to achieve the grades that will open doors to future opportunities.

We pride ourselves on our evidence-based approach to supporting pupils. We use baseline assessments and progress checks to monitor the impact our tutoring is having, and capture the final exam results of our pupils and to compare against the national average for disadvantaged pupils. Read more about our impact here.

Who is eligible for Pupil Premium?

Eligibility for Pupil Premium is usually dictated by family circumstances, such as income or professional status, or whether the child is in care. Currently, children who are eligible for free school meals based on their family circumstances are entitled to the Pupil Premium. This applies if they are entitled to any of the following benefits:

  • Universal credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseekers’ allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • The guaranteed element of state pension credit
  • Child tax credit, provided that you are not also entitled to working tax credit and have an annual gross income of £16,190 or less

Pupils who previously qualified for free school meals based on the eligibility criteria mentioned above, but are no longer eligible, will continue to receive Pupil Premium for the next six years. It is essential that parents notify the school that their child is eligible for the school to receive the additional funding.

How do schools spend the Pupil Premium?

Schools decide how best to allocate the funds, and should focus on benefitting the children who are eligible for Pupil Premium.

Schools must demonstrate that the financial support they receive by the Government is being used effectively through Ofsted checks and annual review reports. They should be transparent about how much money they have been granted, how they plan to spend the premium, and the impact it has made.

Are you a public funded school?

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to work with us. We have ten years of proven impact and our high-quality volunteer tutors can make a real difference to the disadvantaged pupils at your school. Our Programme Coordinators oversee every tutoring session that takes place, acting as a point of contact between the school and the volunteers on the programme. They ensure that feedback on pupil progress is passed on to both groups to ensure quality of learning outcomes.

Common ways in which schools spend their Pupil Premium funding:

Tutoring sessions

Tutoring is an extremely effective tool to improve pupils’ grades. The Education Endowment Foundation calculated that an intense programme of one-to-one tuition could add up to five months’ progress to a young person’s schooling.

Small-group tuition works because it is tailored to individual needs and can address misconceptions at the source, while providing a safe space for pupils with low confidence to speak up and learn from their mistakes.

Teaching Assistants
Teaching Assistants support teachers in the classroom and help facilitate the learning progress. Based on the needs of each school, responsibilities of Teaching Assistants may vary.

Music lessons
Pupil Premium budget can also be used to enhance arts participation, notably if it is intended to boost academic learning of children. For instance, funding used on music lessons can slowly encourage good study habits and engaging attitudes in the classroom.

Laptops and tablets
Pupil Premium money can be spent on digital tools, such as laptops and tablets. These can aid children to learn better and familiarise themselves with technology.

Before and after-school programmes
Breakfast clubs or after school tutoring sessions are great ways to increase attendance, punctuality and academic performance.

Additional English language classes
The funding can also be used to target English language improvement for pupils who speak a different language at home. This can help pupils feel more confident and comfortable speaking up in class.

Academic performance of disadvantaged pupils and their peers

The attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers increases at each progressive stage of education. The Education Endowment Foundation’s research suggests that it more than doubles between the end of primary and the end of secondary school, to 19.3 months.

The 2022 EPI report shows that the gap in GCSE grade attainment between pupils from low-income families and their peers has not improved in the last decade. There is a growing concern that the disadvantage gap in education may increase even more in schools as more pupils fall into longer term poverty.

How can schools best spend the Pupil Premium grant?

Sir John Dunford, the former National Pupil Premium Champion, made it his mission to understand what is the most effective way to spend the Pupil Premium for schools. Acting as a channel of communication between the Department for Education and schools, he came to the conclusion that the most successful schools combined different strategies that were targeted to the needs of individual pupils.

Successful schools gathered data and analysed what best works for each individual pupil. Monitoring their academic progress gives schools an advantage, because they can easily identify the main learning barriers for disadvantaged children and deliver personalised tutoring sessions.


The video below features ideas on how to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. St Paul’s Church of England Primary School in Stoke-on-Trent is surrounded by areas of high deprivation.

Why your help matters

As more and more young people access private tutors, the gap in attainment between disadvantaged young people and their peers will grow. That’s why your contribution is more important than ever.

The best thing about tutoring is getting helped with things I never would have had help with in class. And laughing! I’m not nervous anymore. I feel like I’m going to get my expected mark – at least!’

Sonny, Year 6 pupil, London

The pattern of underachievement in disadvantaged pupils will not go away if we don’t all take collective action. Government plans alone are not sufficient to provide disadvantaged young children the support they need. Pupil Premium funding is a great initiative but can only be successful if we all work together and make sure pupils from low income families have a brighter future.

The key strategies include making sure access to quality education to pupils eligible for Pupil Premium is a priority for all schools, as well as providing personalised and targeted tuition. This requires a strong collaboration between teachers; who must be attentive and understand the educational needs of each pupil; parents; who should let the schools know their child qualifies for free school meals; and the organisation offering further academic support.

Be part of the change 

Volunteering as a tutor with Action Tutoring is a rewarding way to make a difference to the lives of disadvantaged young people living in your community.

By volunteering for just one hour a week, you will directly support disadvantaged pupils to build their confidence and help ensure they leave school with the grades needed to build a bright future, as well as developing your own skills.