The Department for Education has today (27 November) announced a new short-term COVID workforce fund for schools and colleges facing significant funding pressure, and will cover the costs of high levels of staff absences over a minimum threshold, to help ensure schools and colleges can remain open.
Eligible schools and colleges will be able to claim for costs backdated to 01 November, provided that they meet the relevant criteria, and will be able to claim for costs until the Christmas holidays.
Schools and colleges will be able to reclaim costs incurred over the course of the current half term, if they meet the following conditions:
Financial: Schools will first need to use any existing financial reserves. They will be eligible for this additional funding once they have used these down to a level at 4% of the annual income. Colleges’ eligibility will be based on their cash position set out in the November financial return.
Absence rates: Mainstream schools and colleges must be experiencing a short-term teacher absence rate at or above 20%, and/or a lower long-term teacher absence rate at or above 10% - costs can only be claimed when incurred above this rate.
Absence rates: Special schools and Alternative Provision schools must be experiencing a short-term teacher absence rate at or above 15%, and/or a lower long-term teacher absence rate at or above 10%, to be eligible - costs can only be claimed when incurred above this rate.
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
"Keeping schools and colleges open is a national priority, which is why I am launching the COVID workforce fund, to support schools and colleges facing significant budget pressures and staff absences.
"This new funding comes on top of our funding for schools facing exceptional costs during the summer months, the £1 billion COVID catch up fund to help all children make up for lost learning, and the core school funding that is seeing the biggest increase in a decade."
Detailed guidance on the application process is due to be published by GOV.UK shortly.