To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Chief Inspector for Ofsted on ensuring that assessments of the financial performance of state (a) schools, (b) nurseries and (c) colleges are not detrimentally affected by spending on additional (i) cleaning required by covid-19 risk assessments and (ii) classroom based staff to facilitate flexible deployment for clinically vulnerable staff, (iii) technical equipment and assistance for digitally excluded children without a centrally funded laptop and (iv) other demonstrable costs incurred as a result of following covid-19 guidance; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education, and I, have regular discussions with Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector about the issues which are facing education and areas of concerns within Ofsted’s remit. The Secretary of State’s latest meeting took place on 30 September 2020.
Ofsted’s routine inspections of early years, schools and further education colleges are currently suspended to enable them to focus on the challenge of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak and welcoming all children back to education. Routine Ofsted inspections will remain suspended for the autumn term, although inspectors will visit a sample of schools and colleges to discuss how they are managing the return to education of all their students. It is intended that routine Ofsted inspections will restart from January 2021, with the exact timing being kept under review.
Routine Ofsted inspections, under the Education Inspection Framework, consider whether resources are managed well, as part of the Leadership and Management judgement. They do not include an assessment of the financial performance of the nursery, school or college.
All nurseries and childminders (including maintained nursery schools) have benefitted from the continuation of early years entitlement funding during the COVID-19 outbreak. Schools and colleges have also continued to receive their core funding allocations throughout.
Schools have been able to claim additional funding for exceptional costs incurred due to COVID-19, between March and July 2020, such as additional cleaning required due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases and increased premises costs to keep schools open for priority groups during the Easter and summer half term holidays. Following last year’s Spending Round, pre-16 school budgets are rising by £2.6 billion in 2020-21, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20, while funding for 16-19 year olds in colleges and school sixth forms is rising by £400 million in 2020-21.