January 2017

Experiences of the early years pupil premium

Report summary

Aims and Methods

This qualitative study comprised 30 qualitative interviews with setting managers from early years providers who had received EYPP funding. Interviews took place between March and April 2016. The sample was selected to include a range of providers with different quality scores, funding levels, regions and type of provider.

The aim of the study was to build in-depth understanding of how EYPP funding is used and its perceived impact on disadvantaged children. 

Key Findings 

It is clear that providers welcomed the opportunities that EYPP offered to focus support on the needs of disadvantaged children and make a range of improvements to the learning resources and environments of all children, although a number of challenges were identified.

  • Providers felt that standardised eligibility criteria or more transparent eligibility would improve ability to plan resources. Confusion around which children would be eligible made it difficult for some providers (especially smaller providers with more limited resources) to work with and target families to complete application forms.


  • Providers highlighted the administrative burden placed on parents to complete application forms. There was a sense that engaging parents in this process was difficult and that best practice on this particular issue could be shared more effectively. 


  • There was a sense that some smaller providers struggled to achieve the same kinds of impacts as larger settings, because they had fewer eligible pupils and therefore less funding overall. 


  • Providers appreciated the flexibility of the funding, but also indicated that they would have found it useful to have more guidance on how to spend EYPP money, including where it would have most impact. 


  • Providers felt that standardised data collection tools would help settings evaluate spending and impact on an ongoing basis, which would be useful in identifying what is working well and any possible areas for improvement, helping to prioritise decision-making and allocations going forward.