William Eichler 22 December 2020

Two-thirds of COVID-19 school costs not met by Government

Local authority leaders have called on the Government to ensure that schools are able to pay the costs of the pandemic as report shows that current funding levels fall short.

A report by the Education Policy Institute (EPI) has found that two-thirds of COVID-19 school costs are currently not met by Government support.

The research finds that virtually all schools have had to spend more this year in order to operate in a ‘Covid-safe’ environment, with half of schools having to use their reserves and half unlikely to balance their budget by the end of the year.

The EPI analysis, which is based on responses from over 700 schools covering March to November 2020, found that almost all schools reported extra expenditure on PPE and cleaning supplies, while a large majority faced additional costs from signage, digital equipment and handwashing facilities.

Schools have also spent more on teaching staff this year and this is expected to increase in the months ahead.

Responding to the report, Cllr Judith Blake, chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said that the Government ‘needs to go further to help schools pay for the cost of the pandemic.’

‘While the Government’s new COVID-19 workforce fund, on top of the extra funding in the Spending Review, was helpful, it closed at the end of the autumn term and doesn’t plug the historic extra staffing costs schools have had to cover due to the pandemic, and is therefore too restrictive to benefit most schools,’ said Cllr Blake.

‘The Government needs to go further to help schools pay for the cost of the pandemic. Unless the COVID-19 workforce fund is extended after Christmas, backdated and eligibility for it widened, more schools will have no option but to close after having spent their budgets on supply teachers, which will only serve to exacerbate growing attainment gaps.’

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