The Department for Education introduced the Service Pupil Premium (SPP) in April 2011 in recognition of the specific challenges children from service families face and as part of the commitment to delivering the armed forces covenant.
State schools, academies and free schools in England, which have children of service families in school years Reception to Year 11, can receive the SPP funding. It is designed to assist the school in providing the additional support that these children may need and is currently worth £300 per service child who meets the eligibility criteria.
Pupils attract the SPP if they meet the following criteria:
Eligible schools receive the SPP so that they can offer mainly pastoral support during challenging times and to help mitigate the negative impact on service children of family mobility or parental deployment.
Mobility is when a service family is posted from one location to another, including overseas and within the UK.
Deployment is when a service person is serving away from home for a period of time. This could be a 6 to 9 month tour of duty, a training course or an exercise which could last for a few weeks.
The SPP is there for schools to provide mainly pastoral support for service children, whereas the Pupil Premium was introduced to raise attainment and accelerate progress within disadvantaged groups.
Schools should not combine SPP with the main Pupil Premium funding and the spending of each premium should be accounted for separately.
In order to support the pastoral needs of service children, schools have flexibility over how they use the SPP, as they are best placed to understand and respond to the specific needs of those pupils for whom the funding has been allocated. The funding could be spent on providing a variety of means of support including counselling provision, nurture groups, e-bluey clubs etc.
Schools might also consider how to improve the level of and means of communication between the child and their deployed parents. Some schools have introduced ‘Skype time’ clubs, whilst other schools have helped children to develop scrapbooks and diaries that they can show their parents on their return, highlighting their achievements and day to day school life. In addition, staff hours may be required to support the needs of service children when they join a new school as a result of a posting or when a parent is deployed and these hours could be funded by the Service Pupil Premium.