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Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 24th June 2020.

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Photo of Desmond Swayne Desmond Swayne Conservative, New Forest West

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether additional funding will be made available to schools to acquire additional space in which to teach appropriately distanced classes during the covid-19 outbreak.

Photo of Nick Gibb Nick Gibb Minister of State (Education)

From 1 June, primary schools have been able to welcome back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside children of critical workers and vulnerable children. Each school’s circumstances will be slightly different. Any school that cannot achieve the small group sizes set out in the protective measures guidance for the current phase of wider opening should discuss options with their local authority or academy trust. If necessary, schools have the flexibility to focus first on continuing to provide places for priority groups and then, to support children’s early learning, schools should prioritise groups of children as follows:

  • infant schools - nursery (where applicable) and reception
  • primary schools - nursery (where applicable), reception and year 1.

We know that in some schools, there will be capacity to welcome more children back, in group sizes of no more than 15, before the summer holidays. Primary schools have the flexibility to do this, but should only welcome back additional children where provision for eligible groups has already been made, and where they do not require additional funding, staff or classrooms to do so.

We have published guidance on the additional funding we are providing to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The fund is targeted towards the costs we have identified as the biggest barrier to schools operating as they need to at this challenging time.

The cost categories covered by the fund are clearly set out in the guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-schools/school-funding-exceptional-costs-associated-with-coronavirus-covid-19-for-the-period-march-to-july-2020. These are: the increased premises-related costs of opening over school holidays; support for free school meals for eligible children who are not in school, where schools are not using the national voucher scheme; and additional cleaning costs relating to cases or suspected cases of coronavirus, above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.

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