Schools in Lambeth could lose about £1 million in funding for pupils living in poverty, whilst being pushed to break their links with the council.
The Department for Education (DfE) is bringing forward the annual date for counting those eligible for the pupil premium, so that now children who have become eligible between October 2020 and January 2021 will not now be counted until October 2021.
It means, Lambeth children will not get the money – £1,345 a year for primary pupils and £955 for secondary – to pay for academic support.
Lambeth Council Education & Schools Policy Lead Cllr Nanda Manley-Browne said: ‘Losing this funding is terrible for Lambeth children where Covid and the lockdowns have hit our families harder than most places. The number of unemployed Lambeth residents is now twice the average. We will be writing to the Secretary of State to demand our children’s full funding.’
Even before Covid, 42% of Lambeth children were living in poverty, and the number of children eligible for Free School Meals has increased, by about 10% to around 11,000 in recent months.
Lambeth Council is doing its best to support residents with grants, advice and training but we need central government to play its part rather than make things worse.
Instead of addressing this funding and poverty crisis, the government is trying to push council-linked schools to become independent academies.
Tory education secretary Gavin Williamson, who has consistently failed in the last year with the exam algorithm fiasco, sending schools back too early and failing to provide laptops, now wants schools to break their links with effective, supportive councils like Lambeth.
Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Children and Young People Cllr Ed Davie said: ‘We have written to our council-maintained schools, which provide excellent education and support backed by the council, telling them we want them to stay part of the family and resist the Tory government’s unhelpful push to become academies. The government should focus on funding and addressing poverty not unhelpful reorganisations that break links between schools and communities.’