One in four schools will not be able to meet COVID-19 costs, study reveals

Analysis by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) into the financial implications of COVID-19 on schools has found that one in four schools may not be able to meet the costs of COVID-19 with 1,500 schools at particular risk of financial hardship.

The report highlights that many schools began with a deficit or small surplus at the beginning of the pandemic and that these schools were less able to handle the unexpected costs of COVID-19 along with the usual school cost increases. While the government had issued an ‘exception costs’ scheme (where schools could request a capped amount of money for certain costs) between March and July 2020 and has recently announced a COVID-19 workforce fund, the authors of the report claim that these measures did not and are unlikely to ease pressures on school finances.

The report’s recommendations include emergency support to be provided to schools to help meet the costs of COVID-19, with schools with the highest proportion of disadvantaged pupils noted to be receiving the smallest average increases in funding.