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Schools: Covid-19 Costs

Volume 682: debated on Monday 12 October 2020

What steps the Government are taking to support schools that have incurred additional costs during the covid-19 outbreak. (907356)

What recent discussions he has had with school leaders on providing financial support for additional costs incurred by schools during the covid-19 outbreak. (907358)

Schools have continued to receive their core funding throughout the covid-19 outbreak and have been able to claim funds to meet certain exceptional costs in the period between March and July. We have so far paid out £58 million to schools, with further payments due later this autumn, and we are also providing £1 billion in catch-up funding. The Department and Ministers regularly meet school leaders on a range of covid-19 issues, including in relation to costs faced by schools.

I have been going back to school, and in doing so I have been speaking to a number of headteachers and principals who are increasingly alarmed about the costs they have incurred on PPE spend. What is the Minister doing to assure them that their budgets will not be stripped and that they will be able to recoup some of those losses?

Schools have continued to receive their core funding and should be using that to support their covid-19 expenditure. They have also been able to claim up to £75,000 to meet certain exceptional costs in that period between March and July. Brixham College and King Edward VI Community College have applied to the exceptional costs funds, and King Edward VI has received payments and Brixham will be receiving payments shortly.

Headteachers in my constituency tell me they are having to invest significantly in extra cleaning procedures and safety measures, as well as extra staff to cover periods of self-isolation. Further, many schools have also lost reliable income streams from hiring out spaces and fundraising events. Even before covid-19, school budgets were already stretched after years of cuts. With the pandemic set to continue, will the Minister commit today to extra funds for schools in the months to come?

This year is the first of a three-year funding settlement for schools. It is the largest increase in school funding for more than a decade, with £2.6 billion more funding for schools this year. In the hon. Lady’s constituency, pupil-led funding will rise by 2.2% this year.

Last week, the Schools Minister told me, as he has just alluded to, that schools have already submitted claims for £148 million for help with the extra covid-related costs they faced between March and July. As he just said, the Government have so far paid £58 million to schools for help during that period. Why is it that the Government accept that schools needed that additional help with covid costs earlier in the year, but are now ignoring pleas from headteachers for the resources they need for covid-related costs from September onwards? When will the Government recognise the significant extra costs of supply teachers required when staff self-isolate?

The hon. Lady is right that schools have been able to claim for exceptional covid-related costs for that period of March to July. Our priority now, as schools reopen to all pupils, is to target the available extra funding on catch-up, supporting schools to help all pupils to catch-up lost teaching time when schools were closed to most pupils. The £1 billion catch-up funding includes £650 million distributed on a per pupil basis to all schools, which means that a typical 1,000-pupil secondary school will receive £80,000 in extra funding this year. That is on top of the three-year funding settlement that I mentioned earlier—the biggest funding boost for schools in a decade.