Stewart Jackson has urged the Department for Education to explore options to help a small number of localities and local education authorities to deal with the consequences of “very large scale immigration and pupil
The Peterborough MP told parliament the pupil premium has been reconfigured and rebooted but “still regrettably fails” to take account of the “very real impact” of large numbers of pupils with English as an additional language (EAL).
Mr Jackson told MPs that the numbers of EAL pupils in England had risen by 21 per cent since 2011 to 1.19 million, while in Peterborough it had risen by 46 per cent from 7,100 to 10,395 - the equivalent of eight new two form entry primary schools.
The biggest increase, he added, was among Lithuanian speakers with 410 extra pupils - a 63 per cent increase in three years.
He said: “Change is rapid. At one secondary school in Peterborough, two years ago 40 per cent of year seven pupils were EAL. It is now 70 per cent in two years.”
Peterborough, he said, had been described as like a London borough “without the funding largesse in terms of its demographic profile.”
These changes, he added, had had an impact on primary school education, the provision of school places, plus teacher recruitment and retention, as well as on educational attainment.
Speaking at the start of his Westminster Hall debate on government policy on support for pupils with English as an additional language, Mr Jackson said he had raised the issue of the pupil premium during a debate on it in 2011, describing it as a “blunt instrument.”
He argued it was possible to finesse the criteria to drive up education standards in certain circumstances, adding it could be a “more flexible vehicle” in resource allocation.
He said: “The fact is that there is now no de facto targeted funding for those local education authorities (LEAs) who, by dint of their economic profile or geographical circumstances, have to accommodate and deliver the best educational outcomes on an equal statutory footing with other and all LEAs to students whose principal language is not English.
“Pupil premium has been reconfigured, rebooted, nuanced, reset and expanded, but still regrettably fails to take account of the very real impact of large numbers of EAL pupils. With the demise of the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant, dedicated funding has been removed effectively for EAL pupils.”
Mr Jackson said there needed to be a focus on those LEAs “most seriously impacted by these unprecedented population pressures”, adding that the fact remained that effectively there was no provision for EAL support in
pupil premium funding.
Mr Jackson urged the government to examine the issue seriously and consider the longer term cost savings which could be achieved by a “modest, well targeted and ring fenced EAL budget”.
He said: “I fear that teachers in Peterborough can bear the burdens placed upon them without extra help for not very much longer.”
He added: “Every child in my constituency and those of other honourable members deserves the best possible education and with some thought, a proper plan and a little political will power that’s what they can get.”
The pupil premium is extra funding for publicly funded schools across England to boost the attainment of disadvantaged pupils.