East End’s poor kids get worst deal

THE poorest East End pupils could receive less cash than those in richer areas under new school funding plans, a London organisation has warned.

Tower Hamlets – which has more than half its pupils on free school meals – would be left far worse off under the new ‘pupil premium’ the government is proposing, according to London Councils.

The way the premium is calculated is not taking into account the higher cost of services in big cities like London and will leave the poorest hardest hit, critics say.

Under the proposals, Tower Hamlets would receive a premium of �653 for every poor pupil, while richer areas will receive around four times that amount.

For example, Wokingham – which only has five per cent of pupils on free school meals - would get �2,943 per poor pupil.

The cost of providing extra services in a borough like Tower Hamlets would also leave less money allocated to each child.

For example, with a large Bangladeshi and Somali community, funds to teach English as an additional language are required.

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Cllr Steve Reed, in charge of children and young people at London Councils, said: “We assume that it is not the government’s intention to penalise pupils from more deprived areas, but unfortunately that is what their plans look set to do.

“This is not just about London – the most deprived areas around the country will see far less pupil premium funding per child than significantly wealthier areas of the country.”

London Councils has written to the government with suggestions for a model it believes will be fairer.

The latest government proposal comes as another blow for East End youngsters.

The Advertiser recently reported how the abolition of sixth form and college students’ fund, the Education Maintenance Allowance, would hit the East End hard.

More than 70 per cent of students at Tower Hamlets College receive up to �30 a week and the college fears taking the fund away could deter young people from studying.