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£1.2m extra funding for Lewisham schools

Lewisham Council has created an additional £1.2m in pupil premium funds for schools across the borough, in a pilot opt-out data exercise.

Data analysis crossing over several services within the council initially identified over 500 families living in Lewisham, potentially eligible for pupil premium funding, but who had not applied to receive it.

Young child in purple school uniform looking at camera and eating their school lunch happilyKeeping in line with GDPR procedures, the families were contacted by post and informed that they were potentially eligible and that the Council would apply on their behalf unless they decided to opt-out of the auto-enrolment process.

Council services within Education, IT, Revenues and Benefits and Communications were pulled together and the work was undertaken in a very short space of time. The applications needed to be made before the autumn school census cut-off date of 5 October, as the Department for Education uses the data on the census to calculate the funding for schools including the value of pupil premium each school will receive.

The extra £1.2m will be allocated directly to the schools who have the identified families on their roll.  The pilot project has been deemed a huge success and will be expanded and developed for the future, not just for schools but for other services that might benefit from an opt-out approach.

The whole exercise cost the Council under £800 in postage costs, which means every £1 spent generated £1500 - an enormous return on investment and highlights the advantage for local authorities to work creatively and collaboratively, especially in a time of budget pressures.  

Cllr Chris Barnham, Cabinet Member for Children and Young People said:

"Our schools are seeing every day how difficult the cost of living crisis is for families. We’re doing what we can to help as a local council but with the cuts from central government, there’s a limit on how much we can do. That’s why this kind of innovation and creative approach is so important - cutting through red tape and doing everything we can to make sure our children and families get the help they’re entitled to. It’s also fantastic to discover how much more funding our schools are entitled to because of this project.

If local families are struggling financially there is information on further financial support available at lewisham.gov.uk/support”  

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