COUNCIL chiefs have welcomed an increase in funding for town schools.
The Government has increased the grant given to Hartlepool schools aimed at helping boost the education of children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
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The Department for Education hands out cash, called the Pupil Premium, to schools for each child who gets free school dinners after research showed youngsters in this category generally get lower grades than children on paid-for school meals.
Council bosses have welcomed the cash that will see schools in the town get £1.7m.
Of the 13,330 pupils registered in schools in Hartlepool, 3,560 are eligible for the Pupil Premium.
The increase will see schools get an extra £58 for each youngster receiving the Pupil Premium, which will total £488 each.
A Hartlepool Borough Council spokesman said: “The Pupil Premium is allocated for pupils receiving free school meals, and we are delighted that the extra £58 per pupil means additional grant income of £210,000 for Hartlepool schools in this financial year. This will greatly assist schools in ensuring that students make maximum progress in their learning.
“As the funding is based on the January 2011 pupil count, the council’s current successful campaign to increase the number of pupils receiving free school meals will have no financial impact this year, although it will benefit schools in future years.”
The extra cash comes after the Government announced that the total funding available for the Pupil Premium in 2012-13 will rise to £1.25bn, double the amount in 2011-12.
It will rise again each year until 2014-15 when it will be worth £2.5bn.
Children’s Minister Sarah Teather said: “The Pupil Premium will benefit poorer pupils, providing extra money directly for those pupils who need it the most.
“We know that just 27 per cent of pupils on free school meals get five good GCSE grades compared with 54 per cent of non-free school meal pupils. This extra funding will help tackle this inequality and enable schools to provide the extra support they need to reach their full potential.”