Last week, the Department for Education set out financial support guidance for schools to ensure they can focus on the vital role they are playing at this unprecedented time.
The guidance currently covers support for schools up to the end of the 2019 to 2020 summer term.
Schools will continue to receive their core funding allocations, determined by the local authority for maintained schools and through the general annual grant (GAG) for academies.
This is for the 2020 to 2021 financial year.
Most importantly, as we move through these extraordinary times, these new measures mean schools can continue to pay staff and meet other regular financial commitments, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure.
Local authorities will continue to receive their high needs budgets, for the reason that the employment and payment of staff supporting pupils with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) can continue.
As schools remain open, (or will over the coming weeks), and face additional costs as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, additional funding will be available.
This is for schools who are unable to cover these costs from their existing resources.
What Additional Costs are Covered
While all schools are encouraged to continue to manage their budgets in the most effective way possible, the DfE have recognised it is a challenging time for schools.
Above all, they have identified areas where we schools are likely to face additional costs, as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.
- Increased premises related costs (including utilities and resources needed to keep the school open, such as hygiene services) associated with keeping schools open during the Easter and/or summer half term holidays, for vulnerable children and the children of critical workers, over and above the costs that schools would have faced in other circumstances
- Support for free school meals (FSM) for eligible children who are not attending school. Where those costs are not covered by the FSM national voucher scheme – this will cover:
- costs to schools arising before the introduction of the national voucher scheme
- costs where schools are providing free meals to children for whom the national voucher scheme is inappropriate (for example, because there are no participating supermarkets locally or schools are providing meals directly)
- Additional cleaning – required due to confirmed or suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. This should be in line with COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements
Where they need to, schools will be eligible to claim up to the limits set out below.
Schools will need to provide assurance that costs are legitimate additional costs incurred due to coronavirus (COVID-19).
By taking necessary measures, they should consider the following before submitting claims:
- Schools should keep records of all expenditure relating to coronavirus (COVID-19). As is usual with all spend, these records will be necessary for local audit arrangements.
- The headteacher or school business manager who submits the claim should give due consideration to their financial duties. This includes signing their name against any claim.
- We would expect schools to be able to identify this income, and the related expenditure, when reporting their accounts.
Limits for schools
Mainstream schools 250 pupils or fewer £25,000 251 to 500 pupils £30,000 501 to 1000 pupils £50,000 Over 1000 pupils £75,000 Special schools and alternative provision All schools £50,000
Pupil numbers will be defined by the following data:
- 2 to 4 year olds – headcount of funded places from January 2020.
- 5 to 16 year olds – headcount from October 2019 census.
- 16 to 19 year olds – pupil numbers from 2019 to 2020 academic year allocations.
Funding will be available for all state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision, including:
- primary, secondary and all through maintained schools, academies and free schools
- 16 to 19 academies and maintained schools
- maintained special schools
- special academies and free schools
- non-maintained special schools
- pupil referral units
- alternative provision academies and free schools
- maintained hospital schools and academies
Expectations of Schools
Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure.
Therefore ensuring they are able to continue to pay for staff and meet their other regular financial commitments, while delivering the provision required during this unprecedented period.
If schools still have unavoidable additional staffing costs they should discuss these with their Regional School Commissioner who will support them to resolve the issue.
If a school faces other, extraordinary costs to deliver appropriate support to their pupils through this period that are not covered by this list, they should contact DfE.CoronavirusHelpline@education.gov.uk.
Other queries should continue to be directed towards central enquiry channels.
This guidance will be kept under review as the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak develops.
For the full guidance on funding for exceptional costs use to the COVID-19 outbreak visit the DfE here.