Friday, 26 June 2015

What's behind the offer of 'half price' school uniforms by free school?

The Kilburn Times this week LINK  publishes an article about a new primary free school, Kilburn Grange,  offering half prices uniforms to pupils entiled to free school meals.  The uniforms are complete with an old-fashioned 1950s style blazer.

Despite the positive gloss by the school it appears that this is a possibly desperate gambit because the Reception classes due to start in September 2015 are not yet full.  Given the shortage of primary places in the borough this is quite unusual. The closing date for this round of applications is today - Friday June 26th.

Another aspect of the 'offer' is that the school receives the pupil premium for chldren entitled to free school meals so in terms of accounting that means the pupil premium subsideses the school uniform discount. Currently the pupil premium is worth £1,300 per child.

Whether this is the best use of the pupil premium, designed to improve the educational opportunities and attainment of poorer children in order to 'close the gap' with better off children, is arguable.

A Scrutiny Committee Task Group recently published a report on good practice in Brent on the use of the pupil premium. LINK

They stated: 

The task group found that Brent schools are already very innovative and creative with their interventions on closing the attainment gap. There were wonderful examples of Brent secondary and primary schools trying unconventional interventions and being able to show impact and improved outcomes for children. 

This diagram shows the range of uses of the  pupil premium in Brent primary schools.

Subsidising a uniform is about easing access to a school with an expensive school uniform  school rather than spending it on teaching and other activities once the child is at school in order to close the gap in attainment.


David Flint said...

This is clearly a marketing tactic and shows that this Free School sees itself as a business. Of course that's just one small part of the Tories' strategy to make every school a business. Since there would be outrage if they attempted this shift all at once they seek to create competition and encourage business behaviour. Business behaviour includes making decisions according to profitability rather than in the best inerests of pupils.

Anonymous said...

Free schools, eh? They'll try anything.Wasn't Michaela giving free accident and personal injury insurance for its new intake last year?
Still, Liz Kendall would approve.