Tower Hamlets schools get record government funding for poor pupils

Schools in Tower Hamlets will get more money to help pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds next year than those in any other local authority in England.

Tower Hamlets has the highest level of child poverty in the country, with just over half of East End children eligible for free school meals.

The Department for Education announced this week it is increasing the amount given to each disadvantaged child from �488 to �600.

Tower Hamlets is set to receive �14million next year – a hike of more than �5m.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets Lutfur Rahman welcomed the extra funding and said: “Schools in Tower Hamlets face a unique set of challenges and while child poverty is falling, we’re not about to get complacent.

“The pupil premium enables schools to target support where it is most needed and at a time of shrinking school budgets, the increase is needed now more than ever.”

The fund is designed to help schools close the gap between the educational attainment of poorer children and those from wealthier backgrounds.

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According to the Department for Education, in 2009/10 only a third of pupils who have been on free school meals in the previous six years achieved five or more A* to C grade GCSEs compared to more than two thirds of their fellow pupils.

Schools get the pupil premium on top of their main funding and can spend it how they choose.

As part of its changes, the government also announced the cash will now be available for any child that has been registered for school meals in the past six years.

Children’s minister Sarah Teather said the changes “will help school tackle the inequalities that have been a part of our state system for far too long”.

While child poverty remains high, exam results are improving in the East End.

GCSE results topped the national average for the first time ever this year and A Levels were also up on last year.