LGA responds to EPI report on COVID-19 costs for schools

“The Government needs to go further to help schools pay for the cost of the pandemic. Unless the COVID-19 workforce fund is extended after Christmas, backdated and eligibility for it widened, more schools will have no option but to close after having spent their budgets on supply teachers, which will only serve to exacerbate growing attainment gaps.”


Secondary school class

Responding to a report by the Education Policy Institute which says that two-thirds of COVID-19 costs are not met by government support, Cllr Judith Blake, Chair of the Local Government Association’s Children and Young People Board, said:

“Teacher absences, mostly for self-isolation reasons and related caring responsibilities, are soaring and have even trebled in some areas, which coupled with a shortage of funds to pay for supply teachers could lead to more school closures in January.

“Arranging supply teachers to cover for teachers who are self-isolating is the biggest extra cost for most schools during the pandemic with headteachers’ concerns heightened due to the new strain of coronavirus which is spreading more quickly.

“While the Government’s new COVID-19 workforce fund, on top of the extra funding in the Spending Review, was helpful, it closed at the end of the autumn term and doesn’t plug the historic extra staffing costs schools have had to cover due to the pandemic, and is therefore too restrictive to benefit most schools.

“The Government needs to go further to help schools pay for the cost of the pandemic. Unless the COVID-19 workforce fund is extended after Christmas, backdated and eligibility for it widened, more schools will have no option but to close after having spent their budgets on supply teachers, which will only serve to exacerbate growing attainment gaps.”