Boarding Schools: Coronavirus

Department for Education written question – answered on 22nd July 2020.

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Photo of Daisy Cooper Daisy Cooper Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he made of the financial effect of covid-secure measures on the ability of state boarding schools to fully reopen.

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

We recognise the significant impact that this period has had on state boarding schools, many of which have been coming to terms with the additional challenge of reductions in boarding fee income over this period.

The Government’s guidance for the full opening of schools provides advice for the range of school settings, including boarding schools. As stated in the guidance, schools should use their existing resources when making arrangements to welcome all children back for the autumn. There are no plans at present to reimburse additional costs incurred as part of that process.

We have taken steps to ensure boarding schools can receive as much support as possible to meet the financial challenges they may be facing. This includes the potential to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, accessed through guidance on GOV.UK: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care.

A temporary measure has also been agreed that enables academy trusts to apply to the Education & Skills Funding Agency to use their general unrestricted reserves to support boarding provision in response to these unprecedented circumstances. In the case of maintained schools, schools should discuss with their local authority to make sure their use of unrestricted reserves complies with the local authority’s accounting requirements.

Guidance on opening schools can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/actions-for-schools-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak/guidance-for-full-opening-schools.

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