Children at school

A new report by the National Foundation for Educational Research (@TheNFER), reveals that there are a number of schools, which are disproportionately likely to be from deprived areas, who will be unable to meet the costs of the pandemic from the funding they receive from government.

The impact of Covid-19 on school funding has been unprecedented, with schools having lost a significant amount of income and incurred substantial additional costs.

Our analysis suggests that, based on national funding increases, approximately a quarter of schools may not be able to cover the increased costs of Covid-19 from this year’s funding increase. Deprived schools are twice as likely to find themselves in this position than the least deprived schools.

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 from the report are summarised below:

  • Schools have lost a significant amount of income and incurred substantial additional expenditures during the 2020/21 academic year.
  • A substantial number of schools started the pandemic with either a deficit or small surplus. These schools will be less able to absorb the unexpected additional costs of Covid-19.
  • 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.
  • One-quarter of schools may not be able to meet the increased costs of Covid-19. This is because their notional per pupil funding increases of 2.5 per cent for 2020/21 will need to cover costs of teacher salaries and other inflationary pressures, which we estimate will average 2.7 per cent.
  • 1500 schools are at particular risk of great financial hardship due to Covid-19. These schools are disproportionately likely to be deprived.
  • Schools in urban areas, such as London, were more likely to apply for the exceptional costs scheme.
  • 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.
  • While the DfE have just announced a new Covid workforce fund to cover the costs of high levels of staff absence over a minimum threshold for November and December, the scheme’s current eligibility criteria and coverage suggest that it will not go far towards easing the current resource pressures on schools.

The government did provide an exceptional costs scheme to pay for a limited number of core Covid-19 related costs, but this was only available between March and July 2020. Despite eligibility being restricted to schools running deficits, nearly two-thirds of mainstream state-funded schools applied - demonstrating the widespread impact that the pandemic has had on school resources. Schools in London and other urban areas were much more likely to apply for the scheme.

Our report also finds that current catch-up support is unlikely to reach all the pupils who need it. There are currently only enough places on the National Tutoring Programme for less than one in every five disadvantaged pupils in England. Access to technology also remains a significant barrier to schools supporting their pupils’ learning.

Jenna Julius, Report Author and Economist at NFER said:

“The pandemic has created significant pressures on schools’ budgets. Schools are facing substantial extra costs to keep their staff and pupils safe, and the existing funding provision is insufficient to cover these extra costs in some schools. Emergency support is needed now to help meet the costs of Covid-19, particularly for deprived schools without the financial resilience to meet the costs of the pandemic from their existing budgets.” 

mary boustedDr Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said:   

"The NFER report has confirmed what the education world already knew. 

"Schools are struggling to cope with the extra costs of Covid-19. Extra money is being spent on cleaning costs, school layouts and extra heating, meanwhile schools are losing out on lettings income. 

"It is unsurprising that schools in deprived areas are suffering most. The introduction of minimum per pupil funding levels mean money is being directed to better off areas irrespective of need. 

"The Government has announced a Covid-19 Workforce Fund to cover extra costs. However, it only covers 1 November to the end of the Christmas term and schools with reserves are not eligible. The Covid-19 crisis is set to continue until at least the end of the Easter term, and probably the rest of the academic year, so schools will be back in the same position from the start of the new year." 

 Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders' union NAHT, said:

“School budgets were set before the pandemic hit and were already incredibly tight. The mandatory unanticipated costs schools are now facing due to Covid-19, that have so far gone unreimbursed by the government, mean that money could be taken away from children’s education and wellbeing and some schools could be pushed over the edge financially.

“Our research shows that in just the first few weeks of term schools spent on average more than £8,000 pounds each on the safety measures demanded by the government. With restrictions set to continue until March next year, costs are spiralling.

“Last week the government offered a glimmer of hope for some schools, promising some financial assistance, but only for staffing costs and only if they have exhausted their financial reserves. There is still no additional money to help schools pay for essentials like sanitiser, masks, soap and other cleaning products. We would like to see the government go further, and our continuing discussions with them will focus on this in the coming weeks.”

The report makes a number of recommendations:

  • While it is crucial that existing and additional money is spent effectively, emergency support is needed to help schools meet the costs of Covid-19, particularly for those deprived schools without the financial resilience to meet the costs of the pandemic from their existing budgets.
  • The government should adopt a more progressive approach to National Funding Formula (NFF) funding during this unprecedented time to assist the most disadvantaged schools in providing the extra support needed to help their pupils recover lost-curriculum learning.
  • As schools are currently not able to access catch-up support for all of their disadvantaged pupils, targeted funding should be increased as part of a longer term programme of catch-up support.
  • Schools should be provided with additional in-kind and/or financial resources with a minimum level of IT devices and internet connectivity to ensure that all their pupils are able to access remote/blended learning and catch-up support. This could include sharing devices between pupils as the need arises.

You may also be interested in these articles:

Sponsored Video

Register, Login or Login with your Social Media account:


Upcoming FE Events

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Newsroom Activity

Jo Moriani added a new event 2 hours

Mental Health and developing Resilience

Overview This is a dynamic, high quality session which will provide professionals a space to explore their awareness of what mental health is. It...

  • Wednesday, 17 February 2021 10:00 AM
  • Online
FE News: The Future of Education News Channel shared a video in channel. 3 hours 15 minutes ago

LBC Natasha Devon talks to David Gallagher CEO...

FE News: The Future of Education News Channel had a status update on Twitter 3 hours 16 minutes ago

The Future of EdTech: The aim of this online conference is to help attendees reflect on the positives of the last t…
View Original Tweet

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.


We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.


FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page