Tory-run Herts County Council is issuing advice to schools with ideas on how to use the Pupil Premium. The Pupil Premium was a key part of the Liberal Democrat manifesto designed to ensure that pupils from the most disadvantaged backgrounds get the best possible outcome from their education. The money, paid directly to schools, is not ring-fenced for specific projects but is cash for the school to put to the best educational use.

Hertfordshire County Council, however, is recommending to schools that they can use the funding to ‘plug’ the hole in the home school transport budget – which they have just slashed. Pupils who receive free school meals also receive free school transport: therefore the money will not reach those it is intended for.

Ron Tindall, Liberal Democrat Children Schools and Families spokesperson, said:

This is a shameful way to use extra money designed to help those who are disadvantaged. Research shows that bright children from disadvantaged backgrounds start school on a par with their peers, but by age 11 there is a huge gap. This money was intended to bridge that gap not to get better off children to school.

Susan Gaszczak, member of the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee, the body which works up Liberal Democrat policy to send to conference for members to vote on, said:

The Liberal Democrat Pupil Premium policy was designed to allow schools freedom to choose how best to support children from lowest income families. Unlike free school meals, which easily identify those in need, conference decided to let head teachers decide the best course of action which may benefit all or some.

I hope headteachers do not listen to the advice of the County Council but use this extra money in the spirit it has been given.