Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 29th June 2020.

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Photo of Rachael Maskell Rachael Maskell Shadow Minister (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether additional spaces required by schools for physical classroom capacity due to the covid-19 outbreak will be funded by his Department or by schools.

Photo of Vicky Ford Vicky Ford The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

We have published guidance on the additional funding we are providing to schools to cover unavoidable costs incurred due to the COVID-19 outbreak that cannot be met from their existing resources. The funding 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 include 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 COVID-19, above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements. The guidance is available at:

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.

Each school’s circumstances will be 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 this term 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 this term as follows:

  • infant schools – nursery (where applicable) and Reception; and
  • primary schools – nursery (where applicable), Reception and Year 1.

The guidance on implementing protective measures in education and childcare settings is available at:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-implementing-protective-measures-in-education-and-childcare-settings.

Where primary schools have capacity, they may choose to welcome back additional pupils in groups of 15, alongside eligible year groups and priority groups, if they do not require additional funding, staff or classrooms to do so.

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