The pupil premium grant is a flagship government scheme for tackling the gap in education between rich and poor. Also, it has potential for reducing other kinds of inequality as well, for example inequalities to do with disability, ethnicity, gender, race and religion. Next week it will be praised and celebrated at a prestigious awards ceremony in Whitehall. Forty-eight schools have been named and acclaimed.
However, according to research published this week, almost three quarters of these 48 schools have failed to comply fully with regulations relating to accountability. And more than four fifths of them appear to have ignored or misunderstood regulations about accountability in the Equality Act.
‘Take it,’ said Nick Clegg in 2011 when introducing the new grant to headteachers, ‘and use it as you see fit.’ He added a stern warning: ‘But know that you will be held accountable for what you achieve.’ The basic principle he was expressing – local freedom combined with public accountability – is central in the coalition government’s public discourse across a wide range of public policy. The same principles of transparency and accountability underlie the Equality Act’s specific duties. It is worrying that so many schools seem to be indifferent to them, and that the government seems to be turning a blind eye.
There is a brief article about the research at http://leftcentral.org.uk/2013/07/02/equalities-and-accountability-the-pupil-premium/. There is a press release about it at http://www.insted.co.uk/pupil-premium.pdf.