Covid-19: Financial Implications for Schools — [Stewart Hosie in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 4:19 pm on 7th October 2020.

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Photo of Fleur Anderson Fleur Anderson Labour, Putney 4:19 pm, 7th October 2020

It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship, Mr Hosie, and I will be brief, as I want to hear from the Minister. I congratulate my hon. Friend Gareth Thomas on securing this important debate. I thank him for giving me a couple of minutes for sharing, reiterating and adding to his experience of school funding, especially from my constituency in Putney and from across Wandsworth. I pay tribute to the heads, the staff management and the chairs of governors of schools who are managing budgets during this difficult time. I would like to outline four areas of concern that I have noted for local schools.

The first area of concern is mental health. That is one of those areas that is additionally funded, and is an area that can potentially be cut by school governors at the moment, when a school is stripped to the bone. The second area of concern is that of additional costs—more staff, more cleaning costs, and more PPE. There is also inconsistency in terms of income. Many schools have previously had some or a lot of income from hiring out their premises, but are getting no reimbursement or acknowledgment of that difference in budget as a result of losing that income. A third area of concern is youth services. There have been huge cuts in youth services: in London alone, over 100 youth services have been cut in the last five years. That has an impact on education. There is no area to do homework, informal education goes and family support goes. That has all been an additional concern after covid.

The fourth and final concern is special educational needs, as has been outlined by my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow West. Only last Saturday, two parents came to my surgery. They were at their wits’ end. They were not getting the diagnosis support. When they had an education, health and care plan they were not getting any response to that plan. That is detrimental not only to the education of those children and young people, but to the schools that are having to put in additional resources to try and cope with and support those young people. I would like to highlight those areas of concern, and obviously the catch-up fund. I look forward to hearing from the Minister about the catch-up fund—when it will be reviewed and whether there will be flexibility to provide additional funding for that catch-up as we know and understand the needs of our young people over the next year. Thank you.