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Home   Dartford   News   Article

Wilmington Academy defends government scheme that gives more cash for disadvantaged pupils

06 February 2014
by Rebecca Hughes

Tracey Trusler, of Wilmington Academy, spoke out about the pupil premium after centre-left thinktank Demos claimed the coalition’s flagship policy was struggling to close the gap in educational achievements between the rich and poor.

The pupil premium was introduced in 2011, and involves the government committing extra money for children from poorer backgrounds in a bid to raise their educational achievements.

Wilmington Academy head teacher Tracey Trusler, left, has defended the pupil premium saying it has benefited the school significantly.

Wilmington Academy head teacher Tracey Trusler, left, has defended the pupil premium saying it has benefited the school significantly.

Figures show that the divide between the performance of GCSE pupils getting free school meals (FSM) and those whose parents can afford to pay for school food is increasing in Kent.

The county has the 20th largest gap out of the country’s 152 education areas.

While 67.3% of non-FSM children achieved five A* to C grades including maths and English, only 32.8% of FSM children did in 2012-2013.

But Wilmington Academy’s statistics show 63% of pupil premium students achieved the government benchmark of five A* to C grades – higher than the national average – and Ms Trusler claimed that was partly due to the funding.

“The pupil premium has been a very good thing for us at Wilmington because it has given us the resources that we possibly wouldn’t have otherwise to support our disadvantaged students,” she said.

“We’ve been able to improve our services team which looks after the welfare of our students, we have holiday revision and Saturday school and reading and intervention programmes.

“This has all been funded by the pupil premium.”

Five years ago Wilmington Academy – formerly called Wilmington Enterprise College – was third from bottom in the league tables, with only 11% of students achieving five A* to C GCSEs.

One problem highlighted was a low reading age, but Ms Trusler claimed government funding had helped that to improve.

“There’s been a massive impact over the last 12 months and we’ve seen a big shift in reading ages.”

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