Spending the Pupil Premium: what influences leaders’ decision-making?

Rebecca Morris, Graeme Dobson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
515 Downloads (Pure)


Introduced in England in 2011, the pupil premium policy was an ambitious reform aimed at tackling the persistent attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their more affluent peers. The policy provides school leaders with the professional autonomy to determine how pupil premium funding should be used. This article examines the decision-making processes and influences involved in the use of these additional resources. We conducted interviews with 21 school leaders from different contexts across the Midlands in order to investigate the approaches, perceptions and experiences that influenced their engagement with the pupil premium policy. The findings highlight the range of strategies employed to determine how the funding should be used and the factors that influence the decisions made. Our data also indicate the tensions and challenges that are experienced by school leaders in relation to effective use of the funding. We conclude with recommendations for policymakers and practitioners in relation to the requirement for high-quality, accessible information to support pupil premium use, the role of accountability mechanisms and the need for wider societal reform in order to tackle social disadvantage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)284-302
JournalEducational Management Administration & Leadership
Issue number2
Early online date3 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: The authors disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship and/or publication of this article: The authors are grateful to the School of Education, University of Birmingham for funding this study.


  • Pupil premium
  • autonomy
  • financial resources
  • leadership

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Strategy and Management


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