Commenting on a poll published by the Sutton Trust which shows that over a third of heads are using Pupil Premium funds to plug general gaps in their school budget, Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said:
"We know school budgets have been hit hard by coronavirus and the inadequate reimbursement from Government. Schools have had to spend more on cleaning, heating, supply costs and other Covid security measures, while income from lettings is down. It is not remotely surprising that pupil premium funding is being used to plug shortfalls in general funding this year even more than previous years.
"Matched to this is a shift in the date of the census from January 2021 to October 2020, meaning that many disadvantaged children will miss out on the funding they are entitled to for their education. Gavin Williamson must come clean as to how much schools have lost as a result of his moving the goalposts.
"The public sector pay freeze in September is clearly intended to help balance the books - punishing teachers and support staff who have gone the extra mile during the pandemic.
"As the EPI reported last week, other countries have put much more significant sums into education recovery – in the US the equivalent of £1600 per pupil, the Netherlands £2500 and in England just £250. Without a similar investment plan, children in England will fall behind and disadvantaged children will fall behind further."