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What support funding is available to schools during coronavirus?

Date published: Date modified: 2023-03-03

Updated 7/4/2021

In these unsettling times, it may be difficult to know what funding support is available to help your school during the coronavirus pandemic.

SAAF Education are here to support you – that’s why we’ve summarised the financial support available for COVID-19 via government schemes and funds.

Free School Meals

The government will continue to provide schools with their expected funding for free school meals and universal infant free school meals throughout this period. During the coronavirus outbreak, schools are expected to provide pupils with good quality lunch parcels, through the schools catering team or local provider, if pupils have to stay at home. 

If you purchased vouchers through your local authority the DfE has yet to release detail on how to reclaim the spend.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Free School Meals Additional Costs

To recognise the additional cost of provision for pupils who were learning at home from 4  January up to the start of the Easter holidays (as applicable), schools can claim additional funding of £3.50 per eligible pupil per week where lunch parcels are being provided and £15 per eligible pupil per week where vouchers for local shops or supermarkets are being provided. Claims from the half term were provided through the COVID Winter Grant Scheme so should not be claimed through this funding.

The form to claim additional costs is live here and guidance to help you complete this form is available here. The deadline to submit your claim is 23:59 on 4 May 2021. ESFA is contactable here if you have any questions about claiming additional funding.

Free School Meals Supplementary Grant

The free school meals supplementary grant, which was due to end in 2019/20, has now been extended by one additional year to 2020/21. 

Coronavirus Testing in Schools and Colleges Funding

The government announced a grant funding for the national testing programme for schools and colleges. This funding covers the initial roll-out of rapid testing from 4 January until February half-term 2021.

Schools will receive automatic payment via DfE. This will be made as a single payment in the spring to cover the testing period. Payments will be made directly to colleges, academies and local authorities.

Exam Support Service: Autumn Exam Fees

DfE exam support service provides financial support to schools and colleges for paying exam fees. This support package helps schools and colleges with essential additional costs associated with running exams in autumn, including exam fees charged by awarding organisations, alternative sites and invigilation.

This support is available to all school settings, colleges and other exam centres who planned to enter pupils for 2020 summer exams and assessments.

To claim this you need to keep evidence of your autumn fees and summer fee rebates or credit notes. To apply, you need to provide information about your banking and payments to DfE.

Coronavirus Workforce Fund for Schools

The Coronavirus Workforce Fund for Schools is a scheme introduced to help cover the costs of school staff absences that happened between 1 November 2020 and 31 December 2020.

If you’re claiming this fund, you’ll need to first cover the costs yourself from your existing budget and keep records of these, before claiming for reimbursement later this spring. This fund cannot be claimed for temporary staff or if your reserve remains above 4%.

The online form to claim this fund is now live via this link. The deadline to submit claims is 23:59 on 31 March 2021. Published guidance on completing this form can be found here.

Recovery Package 

The government announced that coronavirus catch-up premium is for the 2020/21 academic year, to help pupils catch-up on learning lost due to COVID-19. This includes a £650 million catch-up premium, a £350 million national tutoring programme and £200 million in funding for secondaries to run summer schools.

The government stated that the recovery premium will be worth £6,000 to the average primary school and £22,000 to the average secondary school.

Funding allocations will be based on setting. School allocations will be calculated on a per pupil basis, whereas mainstream schools will receive £80 per pupil from reception to year 11 inclusive. Specialist settings will receive higher per pupil funds at a total of £240 per place. A typical primary school of £200 pupils will receive £16,000 while a typical secondary of 1,000 pupils will receive £80,000.

All settings will be paid in 3 instalments – autumn 2020, spring 2021 and summer 2021.

Tech Funding

DfE is providing tech funding with more than 1.3 million laptops to help disadvantaged pupils access remote education during COVID-19.

Schools can order laptops here. Schools, colleges and 16 to 19 academies can apply for the digital education platform fund via this link. There’s also funding, training and support available to set-up and use technology effectively for academy trusts, schools, colleges, 16 to 19 academies and other FE institutions – find out more about applying for this here.

Test and Trace Support Payment

Test and Trace Support Payment support isn’t specifically for schools, however if pupils, school staff or parents are required to self-isolate, they could claim £500 through the Test and Trace Support Payment scheme if they cannot work from home.

You must be employed or self-employed to get the payment and claim within 28 days of your first day of self-isolation.

Claiming extra costs associated with coronavirus in December 2020

22 December 2020 was the deadline to apply for the government’s funding scheme for exceptional costs associated with coronavirus. The ESFA will pay this funding to local authorities (end of February 2021) and academies (at the beginning of March 2021).


SAAF Education is a leading UK provider of support services within the education sector. Offering Finance, Payroll and Supply & Recruitment services to over 400 schools, academies and MATs. 

If you would like to learn more about how SAAF Education can support your school, academy or trust, contact us.

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By SAAF Education
SAAF Education 340 110

4 March 2021


Education Support

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