Nice try, George. But the Pupil Premium is happening only because the Lib Dems are in government

by Stephen Tall on September 30, 2013

Osborne -  Some rights reserved by altogetherfoolWho has made sure the Pupil Premium is being delivered in Government? Pretty straightforward question, you might think: the Liberal Democrats. Not if you’re George Osborne, though…

“I sit at that Cabinet table and I know who has really put forward the policies that are delivering a fairer society. The pupil premium to support the most disadvantaged children: that was Michael Gove’s idea, front and centre of the last Conservative manifesto.” (30 Sept 2013)

Erm… okay, George. Let’s take those two claims in order.

clegg pupil premiumFirst, you say it was Michael Gove’s idea.

That will come as news to Nick Clegg, who co-authored a pamphlet in 2002 advocating the pupil premium when he was an MEP – the first major national politician to do so. You can read it here. (The original idea, which later morphed into the Pupil Premium, is usually credited to Julian le Grand in the 1980s.)

Now, about your second claim, George… Let’s have a look at the Lib Dem and Conservative manifestos from 2010.

First, the Lib Dems.

lib dems pupil premium

The Pupil Premium was the party’s second highest priority policy, with £2.5 billion of new money specifically ear-marked to help support the most disadvantage children in school:

We will increase the funding of the most disadvantaged pupils, around one million children. We will invest £2.5 billion in this ‘Pupil Premium’ to boost education opportunities for every child. This is additional money going into the schools budget, and headteachers will be free to spend it in the best interests of children

Here, in contrast, is the Conservatives’ 2010 manifesto pledge.

con pupil premium

I had to do a CTRL+F search to locate it – but you will eventually spot it, buried away, on page 53:

… we will introduce a pupil premium – extra funding for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

That’s it. One passing reference with no commitment to any additional funding (the Conservatives were simply going to re-distribute the existing schools budget). But if you’re George Osborne that’s apparently the equivalent of putting something “front and centre”.

Nice try, George. Top marks for effort and chutzpah. But the Pupil Premium is being delivered only because the Liberal Democrats are in government.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.