What’s this about Census and Pupil Premium?


Published in Applicaa | September 30, 2022

I’d just returned to school feeling refreshed after a lovely summer holiday and after only a few hours I’d be feeling like I needed a break again – the reality of working in a busy primary school federation office!

I’d worked as an admin and admissions manager in schools for nearly 14 years at the time and, wow, life was fast-paced!

The pressure I felt on ensuring accurate pupil data for all new pupils joining was beyond huge. If I’d not noticed a nut allergy on the admissions paperwork for example the ramifications were scary.

A few weeks into the new autumn term, when I felt I was getting on top of things, the headteacher would ask without fail – so how are our pupil premium numbers?

The autumn term census is always early October and I would feel the pressure to ensure any new pupils entitled to pupil premium had been contacted and their award was in place for the census, to ensure accurate school funding.

Pupil premium is confusing – so what exactly do these words mean?

Pupil premium funding was introduced in 2011 to bridge the gap between children of different socio-economic backgrounds and there are 3 main pupil premium criteria:

  •       Pupils eligible for Free School Meals
  •       Pupils who have been adopted from care or who have left care
  •       Children who are looked after by the local authority

I always thought “Service” children fell under the pupil premium category, to clear this up: Service pupil premium is additional funding for schools, included within pupil premium payments to make things easier for schools to manage. Schools receive £320 for every pupil who has a parent serving in HM forces or has retired on a pension from the Ministry of Defence. These pupils must be recorded in the school census and evidence for each of those children must be retained.

Pupil premium is so important – pupils are entitled to free school meals and uniform vouchers and schools benefit financially from the award being in place – but it had to be in place for census so I’d always have to be focused on the task in hand!

Funding awarded to primary schools:

  • For pupils who are eligible for Free School Meals or those who are “Ever6” (those who have been eligible in the past 6 years) is £1,385 per pupil
  • For pupils who have been adopted from care or have left care or looked after by the local authority is £2,410 per pupil

The crux of delivering a school census for me was all about being efficient and organised.

Before I found Admissions+, I was always scrabbling about issuing paper forms to parents to inform them about the importance of applying for pupil premium funding, free school meals, and doing audits to ensure I had evidence for all Service pupils.

Admissions+ allowed me to embed a URL link into an online school admissions form. The link would allow parents to check pupil premium and free school meal eligibility, applying in advance of stepping foot into the school.

School census became a breeze with Admissions+. I was confident that all my data was accurate in my MIS as soon as the pupils were admitted in September – it all happened with the click of a button.

I was confident that all families eligible for pupil premium and free school meals were aware and that their awards were in place before census day. I even had time to phone parents to discuss the benefits as opposed to messing about with paper forms.

The Headteacher was happy and I felt so much happier too: I was happy that everyone knew everything there was to know about every pupil – even nut allergies. I was quietly confident that we were ready for census and I was ahead of the game using Admissions+!

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Written & Published by Lucy Clarke
Former Primary Federation School Admin & Marketing Manager, now Applicaa Marketing Manager (because I LOVE Admissions+!)