The implications of Covid-19 on the school funding landscape

Jenna Julius, Jude Hillary and Henry Faulkner-Ellis

04 December 2020

The funding challenges being faced by schools were revealed in our NFER surveys of schools’ responses to Covid-19 in May and July, which identified that a top priority for senior leaders was for the Government to provide more funding in order to manage the impact of Covid-19. Building on this research, this new report investigates the impact of the pandemic on the funding landscape in mainstream primary and secondary schools in England.

Key Findings

  • Schools have lost a significant amount of income and incurred substantial additional expenditures during the 2020/21 academic year.
  • The Government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda has resulted in deprived schools – those in the quartile with the highest proportions of disadvantaged pupils on roll – receiving the smallest average increases in funding.
  • 1,500 schools are at particular risk of great financial hardship due to Covid-19. These schools are disproportionately likely to be deprived.
  • The exceptional costs associated with coronavirus scheme only covered some of the additional costs which schools incurred during the 2019/20 academic year.
  • Schools in London and urban areas were more likely to apply for the exceptional costs scheme.
  • The new Covid workforce fund is unlikely to ease pressures on school finances.
  • Current catch-up support is unlikely to reach all the pupils who need it.
  • Pupils in the most deprived schools, who are in the greatest need of catch-up support, are at the greatest risk of losing out.
  • Existing and additional funding will be insufficient to cover the additional costs of Covid-19, at least for a number of at-risk schools.