To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to provide additional funding to schools to assist with costs resultant of the COVID-19 pandemic.
19 October 2020
Schools have continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout the COVID-19 outbreak. School budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in the financial year 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to the 2019-20 financial year. As stated in our guidance, schools should use their existing resources when making arrangements to welcome all children back for the autumn. There are no plans at present to reimburse additional costs incurred as part of that process.
We are providing additional funding to schools, on top of existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred between March and July due to the outbreak of COVID-19 that could not be met from their budgets. 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 cases of COVID-19, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.
The first claims window for the COVID-19 schools fund closed on 21 July. All claims for funding only within the specified cost categories and maximum limits have already been paid. We are assessing all other claims, which will be paid later in the autumn if approved. There will be a further opportunity in the autumn for schools to claim for exceptional costs that fell between March and July, in the same approved categories as for the first window.
The department has invested over £160 million to support remote education. We have already delivered over 220,000 laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children who would not otherwise have had online access, supporting disadvantaged children to stay online and connected with their teachers during the summer term. These laptops and tablets remain the property of the schools and local authorities so they can continue to be used to support education. We are now supplementing this support by making available 250,000 additional laptops and tablets for disadvantaged children in years 3 to 11 in the event face-to-face schooling is disrupted as a result of COVID-19 outbreaks or local restrictions, meaning that children become reliant on remote education.
The government has also announced a catch up package worth £1 billion, including a ‘Catch up Premium’ worth a total of £650 million to support schools to make up for lost teaching time. This will provide each mainstream school with a total of £80 for each pupil, and special schools, alternative provision and hospital schools with £240 for each place, across the 2020-21 academic year. We have applied additional weighting to specialist settings, recognising the significantly higher per pupil costs they face. Alongside this, as part of the catch up package, we have also announced a new £350 million National Tutoring Programme for disadvantaged pupils.