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SHINE school charity warns of ‘Covid funding crisis’

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APPEALS have been made to provide ‘fairer funding’ to schools in areas most affected by Covid-19, such as Bradford, to help them cope with the additional costs the pandemic has created.

The northern education charity, SHINE, is calling on the government to provide money to struggling schools, especially those in poorer areas.

Some schools are facing a funding crunch, says SHINE, because of the costs associated with the pandemic and trying to make schools as safe as possible for students and staff.

The Education Department said it provides billions of dollars in bonuses to students each year and schools can claim additional fees at the end of the previous school year.

SHINE said school budgets were already depleted before the pandemic and schools in poorer areas, which have seen higher cases of Covid-19 infections, are bearing the brunt of the financial impact.

Bradford Council supported SHINE’s appeals.

Fiona Spellman, Managing Director of SHINE, said: “The financial challenges COVID has brought to our education system are real and many places are not getting enough help.

“Education officials need to find funds to cover additional cleaning costs, cover staff absences and take additional steps to support social distancing, all from existing resources.

“It forces them to make impossible decisions between the physical safety of their students and staff and their broader needs.

“Much like businesses, schools have had to deal with rapidly rising costs to stay open, but unlike businesses, schools are not eligible for grants to alleviate these pressures.”

There is currently a petition to the government asking it to reimburse the exceptional costs associated with Covid-19 to schools, as well as to reimburse lost income from rentals and rentals.

SHINE said in Yorkshire there was a £ 500million funding gap, with some schools in poorer areas of Bradford losing hundreds of pounds in funding per pupil since 2015.

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said, “In addition to the core funding that schools are receiving and have continued to receive throughout the pandemic, we are also providing student bonuses worth $ 2, £ 4 billion each year to support the most disadvantaged students.

“Schools can also claim exceptional costs incurred between March and July and we continue to control the costs of securing a school by Covid.

“Our £ 1bn Covid catch-up fund provides both additional tutoring for the most disadvantaged and flexible funding that schools can use to help all of their students make up for their lost education.”

The government created the billion pound fund to help make up for lost learning, but SHINE said that was not enough.

Ms Spellman added, “The catch-up fund does not offer a solution to this problem.

‘£ 650million of this amount will be distributed evenly across all schools, and not to specifically support places where we know COVID has had the greatest effect, and the remaining £ 350million has been allocated to programs of Additional schooling which, while valuable in itself right, I cannot hope to make up for a looming crisis of core funding in the education system. ”

Cllr Imran Khan, Executive Member for Education, Jobs and Skills, said: “Our schools have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic and I have long called on the government to invest more in education of our children.

“Schools cannot be expected to cover these vital additional costs without the necessary government funding.

“Covid has only added to the pressures already on school budgets and now is the time we need to invest more in our children to ensure a resilient recovery.

“The government has said the right things about trying to level the North, I now look forward to seeing them deliver on that promise with real per student increases and more substantial Covid funding for schools.

“As a council we have made the decision to invest despite our own budgetary pressures, for example we have invested an additional £ 400,000 in an innovative program in which undergraduates at the University of Bradford teach additional courses English and maths to students.

“We have also invested over £ 300,000 in lifesaving educational psychology support and an additional £ 210,000 to extend school meals during the holidays because it was the right thing to do.

“We have also set out an ambitious £ 1.2million strategy to bridge the digital divide facing disadvantaged children and are committed to doing all we can to support our children and our schools through this.

“I wholeheartedly support all calls for more funding for schools because at the end of the day it’s one of the best investments we can make. I urge the government to work in partnership with us and our schools to invest more in this generation of children – they are only young once and they deserve our support to realize their potential.

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