Bonus payments for poor pupils

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SCHOOLS around South Yorkshire are receiving extra bonus payments of almost £500 for each pupil on free school meals, in council care or with parents in the armed forces.

Schools will receive the additional £488 payments for a total of 40,000 pupils countywide – with the extra funding totalling £18 million for South Yorkshire.

The money is on top of general funding for schools, protected from Government cuts.

Figures show Sheffield schools will receive £6.5 million for 13,410 eligible pupils, while £4.268m is being given for 8,800 Doncaster youngsters. Some £3.632m is being awarded for 7,470 Rotherham children and £3.406m for 7,030 youngsters in Barnsley.

The policy was in the Lib Dems’ manifesto before the General Election and has been one of Sheffield Hallam MP and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s priorities. He said: “I passionately believe the best way to improve a child’s life chances is to stop them falling behind at school as early as possible.”

The payments – £50 higher per child than originally proposed – can be spent however schools want, with a view to helping to ensure children from deprived backgrounds do not fall behind.

Sheffield Council leader, Labour Coun Julie Dore, said: “I welcome any extra funding but it has to be set against the Government cuts to other areas of education, such as the Education Maintenance Allowance.”