The Department for Education has announced a short-term Covid Workforce Fund to support schools and colleges facing financial and staffing pressures due to the Covid-19 pandemic in England. 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, as we would typically expect when facing unforeseen costs. 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
Claims for support staff absences will be on an exceptional only basis, where necessary in keeping schools and colleges open. In special/AP schools, there will greater flexibility for claims for these staff.
Claims can include the cost of bringing in supply teachers but also other options such as paying additional hours for teachers who are part time (provided these teachers are happy to temporarily increase their hours, and full consideration is given to their workload and wellbeing).
Funding will apply to the current half term and will be backdated to 1 November 2020.
Guidance on the claims process will be published shortly.