Schools are a sum of their parts
Not all state schools within a local authority are the same. Similarly, not all pupils at independent schools should be viewed as coming from wealthy families. Gone are the days when we looked at an LA’s “per pupil funding” statistics and made a sweeping generalisation of how well off the area is. Today we can view schools as unique and individual institutions.
There is a wealth of demographic information published, particularly by England’s Department for Education, which paints a detailed picture of the pupils in our schools. One of the most commonly known deprivation measures is free school meal eligibility, which is a means-tested right.
Free School Meals
The Liberal government introduced a free school meal for children from poor families back in 1906, though it’s thought only a fraction of eligible children were catered for successfully. Universal free school meals were then introduced in 1944 and served children up to two hundred meals per year until the 1980 Education Act. Today, free school meals eligibility and take-up are valuable demographic indicators when assessing a school’s parental affluence.
Pupil Premium (England) & Pupil Development Grant (Wales)
Free School Meals offer valuable daytime nutrition to pupils from more deprived backgrounds, but it is also widely acknowledged that such deprivation brings additional learning challenges. Consequently, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government introduced the Pupil Premium from 2011/12 to provide a fixed sum for each qualifying pupil that would be paid to the school to aid their educational needs. For 2018/19, this was £935-1,320 per FSM pupil and £2,300 for LAC.
We also hold Pupil Development Grant allocations for schools in Wales.
When assessing pupil deprivation, the ‘Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index’ (IDACI) can be slightly misleading. One version of IDACI data provides a measure for a locale known as a Super Output Area. Now, although extreme examples, it could be the case that pupils from fabulously wealthy families travel one hundred miles to attend a school in a rundown neighbourhood or, marginally more likely, the children of destitute families travel long distances to study at a high-achieving school in the leafy suburbs. However, there is also another version of the data that details the school’s IDACI score based on the make-up of their student body.
Other available pupil population measurements
- Pupil numbers and percentage by age, gender and whether they attend school full- or part-time
- The ethnic make-up of a school’s pupil population
- The number and percentage of pupils with English as their first language
- Pupil absence statistics
- How pupils travel to school, including the number and percentage of each method of transport
- Leaver destination statistics
School staff demographic profiles
- Number of staff
- Number of teachers in the total staff
- Percentage of qualified teachers in teaching staff
- Teacher absence statistics