I am interrupting my silence this Sunday to blog about a topic I feel strongly about.
This year, the government's new "pupil premium" has been rolled out across schools. If you don't know what it is, here is the info on the D of E website:
The Pupil Premium is additional funding given to schools so that they can support their disadvantaged pupils and close the attainment gap between them and their peers. The Pupil Premium is rising to £1.875 billion in 2013-14, with schools attracting £900 per disadvantaged child.
Basically, the pupil premium is targeted at offering more "free stuff" to kids whose parents are already getting "free stuff" and earning more a year sitting on benefits and getting added freebies, than the large majority of the population who do not claim benefits.
Now, if you have seen my previous post on the widening gap between the so-called middle classes and those on benefits, you will know how I feel about the government offering extra "freebies" to those who receive help from the government. Let me be clear - this post is not about those who claim benefits. It's about the government's flawed system.
Currently, for my two children's school expenses, I approximately pay per year:
£840 School Dinners
£400 Breakfast Clubs
£100 After School clubs
Total: £1440 - meaning that I have to earn approx £1800 pre tax to fund my kids school activities.
This is all free to those accessing the pupil premium.
This week I received a letter home from school which made me really annoyed. Now, not only do those accessing the pupil premium receive free school meals, free breakfast clubs and after schools clubs, free milk and free school trips, and much more - this week we were informed by our primary school that an extra teacher has been recruited to "work on a 1:1 basis with pupils who access the Pupil Premium".
Now, to me, this is just another huge kick in the teeth for those who choose to work hard and earn an honest living from morning until night. To me, it seems that not only do those on benefits earn more money a year in "freebies" than my husband and I earn, but now, their children are entitled to extra private tuition too.
Add to the fact that it is these children who I, and other parent volunteers tend to work individually with when we volunteer in the class room, these pupils are getting so much more attention than their counterparts whose parents go to work and don't claim benefits.
What makes my children's need any less than those children who are accessing the pupil premium? Why is it fair that my children are not offered 1:1 support? In our small village school, I would not really say that there is a huge gap between most of the pupils who access the pupil premium, and those who don't.
However, it does seem that the class divide is widening again - The rich can afford to send their kids to private schools, the perceived poor are now receiving extra free private tuition - so where does this leave those kids in the middle? What chance is there for them to receive extra support? If the pupil premium is being offered to schools, it should be of benefit to all pupils - not just those who are already being bolstered by the government.
As the parent of two children with very different needs - one summer child who needs help to keep up with peers, and one bright spark who needs stretching in the classroom, I am once again wondering how I teach my children that it pays to work hard and make a living - because in reality, it really doesn't. They often ask why ****** Mummy is able to sit at home all day and yet they still live in a nice house with a big TV, whilst I have to miss out on assemblies and the like as I am at work.
How do you explain to a child that they will not get to go and have special 1:1 time with the teacher as their Mummy and Daddy works and the other pupil's does not? Of course, you would never spin it like that, but would you tell them the truth when they ask? Will this encourage them to want to work hard?, or will they think that them displaying bad behaviour and falling behind might get them some special attention too?
To me, this is just another example of the government pandering to those on benefits. It is also another kick in the teeth to children who can't help it that their parents are working hard to provide for them - and that's a depressing thought.
Where is the incentive from the government for those children stuck in the middle who want to improve their chances in life? I have to limit my kid's school activities due to cost constraints - activities that others get for free. How soon before they start realising why one child can do every club under the sun and they can't?
We need a fairer system of equal distribution of payments through schools for all children. In my opinion, the government should up benefits for those claiming them, but take away the freebies to make it a fairer system. Everyone should have to pay for school meals, milk, clubs, dentist trips, prescriptions and everything else - or everyone should receive it for free and more tax should be paid to compensate. I also think recruiting extra teacher's for 1:1 tuition should be of benefit to everyone - not just to those who are already a drain on tax payers.
What do you think of the pupil premium? Are you school introducing 1:1 tuition for some children? I would love to hear your thoughts....