Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Petition Fully fund schools for Covid-19 costs and provide relief for loss of income

Without delay, for government to:

• agree to reimburse schools' exceptional costs associated with Covid-19 measures
• reimburse schools' lost income from Covid-19 (eg. rental/lettings)
• guarantee reimbursements will be paid directly to schools for financial years 2020/21, 2021/22, as required

More details

This term, schools are facing increasing Covid costs, in addition to those incurred between March and June.

Costs include: supply staff, materials, cleaning, ventilation systems, handwashing stations, improved IT and training to enable blended learning.

Schools have simultaneously lost income, unable to let premises. Unlike businesses, schools are not eligible for grants to alleviate such pressures.

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Government responded

This response was given on 7 December 2020

We have announced a new fund for the cost of teacher absences. This comes on top of £100m for exceptional costs between March and July, the £1bn COVID catch-up fund, and £2.6bn rise in school budgets.

School budgets are rising by £2.6bn in 2020-21, £4.8bn in 2021-22 and £7.1bn in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20. This increase in funding will help schools with costs associated with the COVID outbreak.

We have also announced a new Covid workforce fund to help schools remain open. It will fund the costs of teacher absences over a threshold, from the start of November until the end of this term, for schools with high staff absences that are also facing significant financial pressures. Guidance on the claims process will be published shortly so schools have confidence in the costs they can incur and be eligible to reclaim.

Schools have already received payments of £102 million for exceptional costs between March and July. Schools have been eligible to claim for: increased premises related costs associated with keeping schools open over the Easter and summer half term holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who were not in school, where schools were not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases, over and above the cost of existing arrangements.

There will be a further opportunity in December for schools to claim for any costs during that period in the same approved categories, for which they did not claim during the first window.

In addition to this, the Department has supported schools with remote education. On the 1st October, the Department announced a further support package, to help schools meet the remote education expectations set out in the schools guidance for full opening published in July. The package is designed to help schools build on and deliver their existing plans.

Many elements of the support package are already in place and more will be available over the coming months– these can be accessed through the remote education service on gov.uk. The support package includes access to the right technology to deliver remote education, peer to peer training and guidance on how to use this effectively in the short- and long- term, and practical tools, good practice guidance and school-led webinars to support effective delivery of the curriculum.

Over 340,000 laptops and tablets are being made available this term to support disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 whose face-to-face education may be disrupted. This supplements over 220,000 laptops and tablets and over 50,000 4G wireless routers, which have already been delivered during the summer term.

This represents an injection of over half-a-million laptops and tablets by the end of the year.

The government is also funding expert technical support to help schools set up secure user accounts for Google and Microsoft’s education platforms, and we have invested £1.5 million of additional funding to expand the EdTech Demonstrator programme, which supports schools’ and colleges’ use of technology to strengthen remote education and secure a longer-term strategy.

The government has announced a catch up package worth £1bn, including a ‘Catch Up Premium’ worth a total of £650m to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. Our expectation is that this funding will be spent on the additional activities required to support children and young people to catch up after a period of disruption to their education. Because all pupils have been affected by the Covid-19 outbreak, the universal catch up premium funding will be available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision. Payments will be made to schools, which will enable them to tailor the funding to their specific contexts, and towards the pupils who need it most. Alongside this, we have also announced a new £350m National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils. This will increase access to high-quality tuition for the most disadvantaged young people, helping to accelerate their academic progress and tackling the attainment gap between them and their peers.

We recognise that many publicly funded schools are not able to secure income from private sources as normal, for example letting their facilities, providing wrap around child care or offering catering services.

Where schools normally provide a service or operation that is wholly or significantly funded by private income, we know this lost revenue will create additional pressure on budgets. Where schools have members of staff delivering these services, which were funded by private income, they should look to make the necessary savings from their existing budgets or consider options to redeploy these staff. Schools have also been able to use the coronavirus job retention scheme for these staff, after having looked to other options.

Schools will continue to be able to access existing support for financial issues, including a wide range of school resource management tools, and, in serious circumstances, additional funding or advances from local authorities for maintained schools, or ESFA for academy trusts.

Department for Education

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