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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Colleges, School and Institutes

External organisations

  • Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick, Coventry, UK.


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 decisions made and the factors influencing 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 taken to determine use of the funding 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 relating to the need 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
JournalEducational Management Administration & Leadership
Early online date3 Mar 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Mar 2020


  • Pupil premium, autonomy, leadership, financial resources