Funding rises should cover Covid costs, schools minister says


The additional funding set aside in the school budget should help schools to stay open throughout the coronavirus pandemic, schools minister Nick Gibb has said.

When asked about whether the government would compensate schools to cover an estimated £216 million of added costs, he described the situation as “under review” and added that the “generous” funding rises seen to date should help schools through.

“The funding settlement for schools this year and the next two years has been very generous and that’s the funding that’s for these kinds of extra interventions,” Mr Gibb explained.

Mr Gibb has suggested that the expectation within government is that the costs will be covered by the extra £7.1 billion that is being given to schools by 2022.

According to a survey by the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT), the school leaders’ union, schools have spent an average of nearly £10,000 each ensuring that they were ready for the return of pupils.

Having looked at school spending between the beginning of the pandemic in March and the start of the new school year in September, the survey found that two-thirds of schools had spent money on additional staffing.

This included preventative measures such as additional cleaning or site management, which are not covered by a government fund which can only be claimed when cases are recorded in schools.

NAHT general secretary Paul Whiteman has urged the government to extend the funding scheme as schools should not be left out of pocket as a result of the pandemic.

The union has also called on the government to ditch fines for parents who may have concerns about sending their children back to school.

Mr Gibb said that such action should be a last resort for headteachers, and said that parents should raise their concerns with school staff to find out what is being done to protect their children.