COVID-19 schooling policy timeline
This publication covers the financial year April 2020 to March 2021, a period entirely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A timeline of policy changes relating to education is therefore given below.
March – May 2020
From 23 March, national lockdown in England meant that schools and colleges were asked to open only to vulnerable children and children of critical workers.
June – July 2020
From 1 June 2020, the government asked schools to welcome back children in nursery, reception, year 1 and year 6, alongside children of critical workers and vulnerable children.
September – December 2020
During the 2020/21 autumn term, all pupils in all year groups were expected to return to school full-time. However schools may not have been fully open if:
- A group of pupils without COVID-19 symptoms themselves or in their households had been asked to self-isolate
- They were unable to provided face-to-face teaching for all pupils for the entirety of the normal school day
- They were not open to all year groups
- They were not open to pupils because of a training or INSET day.
January – March 2021
From the 5 January 2021 national restrictions were re-introduced across all year groups and the policy stated that provision on site should once again be provided only for vulnerable children and children of critical workers. From 8 March 2021, all children were again expected to attend school.
Further information can be found here.
In 2020-21 information on three COVID-19 related grants was added to the Consistent Financial Reporting return:
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
The department recognised that many publicly funded schools were not able to secure income from private sources as normal, for example letting their facilities, providing wrap around child care or offering catering services. Where schools normally provided a service or operation that was wholly or significantly funded by private income, it was known that this lost revenue created additional pressure on budgets particularly where members of staff who delivered these services were funded by private income. Some schools were able to make savings from their existing budgets or consider options to redeploy these staff. To support the sector to protect these jobs we have also ensured that schools were able to use the coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) for these staff. Further information is available here.
Income from the DfE grant scheme for reimbursing exceptional costs associated with COVID-19
We provided additional funding to schools, on top of existing budgets, to cover unavoidable costs incurred between March and July 2020 due to the COVID-19 outbreak that could not be met from their budgets. Schools were eligible to claim for funding for three specific categories of spend:
- increased premises related costs associated with keeping schools open over the Easter and summer half term holidays
- support for free school meals for eligible children who were not in school, where schools were not using the national voucher scheme
- additional cleaning costs required due to confirmed or suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) cases, over and above the cost of existing cleaning arrangements.
Schools were able to claim up to a maximum amount from the fund dependent on their size, up to £75,000. The exceptional costs fund was not available to schools who expected to add to their existing historic surpluses in the relevant funding year. This is the funding year in which most of their costs for March to July 2020 fell (September 2019 to August 2020 for academies and April 2020 to March 2021 for maintained schools).
Schools have been eligible for reimbursement where the additional costs associated with COVID-19 would: result in a school having to use historic surpluses; would increase the size of a historic deficit; or prevent the planned repayment of a historic deficit.
Further information is available here.
Income from the £1bn COVID-19 catch-up package announced on 20 July 2020
In June 2020 the government announced £1 billion of funding to support children and young people to catch up on missed learning caused by coronavirus.
Further information is available here.