Liberal Democrats plan to back £1,000 pupil premium

The Liberal Democrats will go into the next election proposing to triple the pupil premium for early years infants, according to David Laws, the education minister.

The early years pupil premium is currently worth £300 a year for three- and four-year-olds from disadvantaged backgrounds in nursery and Laws says the Lib Dem policy would take its value to £1,000 per child by 2020. More than 170,000 children could benefit.

"Investing in early years is one of the best ways to build the fairer society that Liberal Democrats want to see and we are ambitious about delivering for future generations," Laws said. "This extra investment will mean a huge amount of support for the people who need it most and demonstrates our strong commitment to education."

In 2010, the Lib Dems made introducing a pupil premium one of their key priorities. It is based on the recognition that a deprived background can hold pupils back and the policy involves giving schools extra funding in accordance with the number of poor pupils they have, on the understanding that the money is used by heads to help them improve the performance of those pupils.

Children are eligible if they meet the criteria for free school meals or if they have been in care.

In March, the policy was extended to cover three- and four-year-olds. A consultation is taking place to determine whether it will be extended to cover some two-year-olds.

Many commentators expect the 2015 election to result in a second hung parliament and the pupil premium, and other Lib Dem priorities, could end up as important elements in coalition talks, determining whether the party sends David Cameron or Ed Miliband to No 10.

Powered by article was written by Andrew Sparrow, for The Guardian on Monday 25th August 2014 00.38 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010