Pupil Premium

Action Tutoring seeks to partner with schools where their percentage of pupils eligible for Pupil Premium funding is above the national average, ensuring our tutoring is offered to where it’s needed most.

We aim for around 80% of the pupils we work with to be eligible, and we work closely with schools to also support any other pupils who they know wouldn’t otherwise have access to tutoring.

What is Pupil Premium?

The Pupil Premium is a government programme that was implemented in 2011 as a way to help disadvantaged pupils receive further support in their education. It was established following the publication of several research papers clearly showing a significant gap between the educational performance of disadvantaged children and their peers.

The government evaluates that the Pupil Premium, which is in addition to regular school funding, is the best way to approach the current underlying inequalities between disadvantaged children and their peers. These pupils can often face additional challenges that negatively impact the learning process. These difficulties include issues with attendance, a lack of confidence, and difficulty communicating with others.

The programme’s goal is to provide additional funding to schools so that they can offer further support to children who experience these sorts of difficulties. Pupil Premium funding can’t be paid directly to parents or carers, but it has a great impact on schools and eligible pupils.

Its mission is to assist schools in unlocking the learning potential of their disadvantaged pupils and providing them with the right tools so that they can access the education resources they need. The ultimate goal is to eventually close the attainment gap between disadvantaged young people and their peers.

This is 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. We believe that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds aren’t less capable to perform well in school, but they aren’t given the same tools that will enable them to progress and reach their full potential.

Part of our mission to close the attainment gap involves recruiting high-quality volunteer tutors, who must meet our criteria in academic achievement, skills and experience.

We assess each application individually and make sure pupils receive academic support from tutors who understand their struggles and support them by providing high quality tutoring sessions.

Who is eligible for Pupil Premium?

There are many different reasons that dictate the eligibility of children for Pupil Premium. They usually include their family circumstances, such as their income or professional status, or whether the children are in care or not. If a pupil qualifies, the school receives a certain amount of funding and spends it in an effective way so that it can support the pupil.

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

What’s more, 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 this, as this will allow the school to receive additional funding from the government, which will improve the education quality their child receives.

How do schools spend the Pupil Premium?

Schools can decide how best to allocate the government funds so that they benefit children who are eligible for Pupil Premium. Pupil Premium is typically used for a combination of academic assistance and broad enrichment activities.

Schools must demonstrate that the financial support they receive by the Government is being used effectively through Ofsted checks and annual review reports, as well as clearly and openly revealing 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 – 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 tutors on that programme. They ensure that feedback on pupil progress is passed on to both groups to ensure quality of learning outcomes.

Here are some common ways in which schools spend their Pupil Premium funding:

Tutoring sessions
Children eligible for Pupil Premium have the opportunity to receive additional academic support by external providers. This helps pupils consolidate their knowledge, become more confident, engage in lessons and attain the grades required to continue their education post-16. Tutoring has been proved to be an excellent way that can close the achievement gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers.

We are grateful to our partner schools who have chosen us to help their pupils and make a real difference. These supplementary tutoring sessions have the potential to open new doors for pupils and support them with extra resources they need for a brighter and secure future.

Teaching Assistants
The funding gives schools the chance to employ Teaching Assistants to support the fundamental role of teachers and facilitate the learning progress. Based on the needs of each school, the responsibilities of TAs may be different.

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, the funding can be an opportunity to provide music lessons to pupils and this can slowly but steadily 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, to help children learn better and familiarise themselves with technology.

Before and after-school programmes
Organising a breakfast club before school or maths catch-up tutoring session after school are both great ways to increase attendance, punctuality and academic performance.

Additional English language classes
Finally, an effective way that schools choose to use their financial resources is by targeting English language improvement for pupils who speak a different language at home. This helps pupils feel more confident and comfortable speaking up in class and makes them feel included in the learning process.

What is the difference between Pupil Premium and Free School Meals?

Pupil Premium funding: An additional financial support for public schools in England to reduce the attainment gap and provide further support to disadvantaged pupils.
Free School Meals: This is part of the Pupil Premium funding. If a pupil attends a state funded infant school and is in Reception/Key Stage 1, they are entitled to free school meals’ regardless of their parent/carer’s earnings.

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 and more pupils fall into longer term poverty.

Early intervention is important to ensure pupils have the right learning foundation to continue their education. That’s why we started working to support primary pupils, as well as secondary, in 2016.

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.


It’s also important to educate all school staff regarding Pupil Premium strategies so that they can all systematically work towards the same goals and keep the Pupil Premium cause at the top of their list of priorities.

If you are a primary or secondary state school, you can find more additional information on the effectiveness of the Pupil Premium funding on the official Government website.

If you would like to learn more, the video below features ideas on how to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. St Paul’s CE 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 

Action Tutoring’s mission is to ensure all pupils receive the education they deserve in order to become confident adults with the opportunity to access further education, employment or training. We believe in the power of volunteering and social mobility, which makes a huge difference in the lives of thousands of vulnerable young people.