Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, the department has emphasised the importance of ventilation and provided guidance to nurseries, schools and colleges on ventilation requirements. It is important to ensure that nurseries, schools and colleges are well ventilated and that a comfortable teaching environment is maintained.
The department recognises that schools may be facing pressures this winter, particularly where energy prices have increased. However, these cost increases should be seen in the wider context of funding for schools: at the 2019 Spending Round, the government committed to significant additional investment in schools of £2.6 billion in the 2020-21 financial year, £4.8 billion in 2021-22 and £7.1 billion in 2022-23, compared to 2019-20. This year, mainstream school funding is increasing by 3.5% overall, and all schools are receiving at least a 2% increase to pupil-led per pupil funding.
Durham is receiving an extra £10.5 million for schools this year, an increase of 3.3% per pupil. This takes total funding for 2021-22 in Durham to over £344.5 million, including additional funding to meet increased costs of teachers’ pay and pensions.
School leaders have the flexibility to make their own decisions on how to prioritise their spending to invest in a range of resources that will best support their staff and pupils. The department does not have detailed information on how cost pressures will vary for individual schools, as these will depend on individual circumstances and local decision making.
Schools continue to be able to access existing support for financial issues, including a wide range of school resource management tools, and, in serious circumstances, additional funding or advances from local authorities for maintained schools, or the Education and Skills Funding Agency for academy trusts.
School funding remains one of the department’s key priorities and any decisions on future funding will be made as part of this year’s Spending Review. We expect the outcome of the 2021 Spending Review to be announced on 27 October.