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Last updated on 10 September 2020
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Be clear on what funding is available from the government for state-funded schools to cover coronavirus-related costs. Find out how much you can claim and what you can spend it on.

Updates to this article

10 September 2020: we've updated this article to reflect that the first claims window has closed. We'll update it again once the ESFA publishes further guidance on the second claims window later in the autumn term. Click 'save for later' in the top-right hand corner to be notified when we do. 

What is it?

Additional money for state-funded schools to cover coronavirus-related extra costs you encountered between March and the end of the summer term in July.

Note: you'll still receive your normal funding allocations, special educational needs and disability funding (SEND), and funding for alternative provision for 2020-21.

Who's eligible?

All state-funded mainstream and special schools, and alternative provision.

This includes non-maintained special schools, and maintained hospital schools and academies.  

The DfE hasn't said anything yet on whether there'll be any funding support from the government for schools that aren't state-funded. 

You're eligible for funding if:

  • You weren't able to cover the extra costs of certain things (see below) from your existing budget
  • Paying for these extra things:
    • Means you've had to use historic surpluses, and so draw on your reserves which you need long-term
    • Increased the size of a historic deficit
    • Prevented the planned repayment of a historic deficit

You're not eligible for funding if you expect to finish the year with a higher level of reserves than you started. In other words, if you began your current financial year with an accumulated historic surplus, and you expected to increase that surplus this year, you're not eligible.

What's the funding for?

1. Extra premises-related costs of keeping your school open during the Easter and/or summer half-term holidays for vulnerable children and children of critical workers

The funding covers the additional cost of things like utilities and resources (e.g. hygiene services) above what you would've normally paid between March and the end of summer term in July. 

2. Supporting pupils on free school meals who didn't attend school

This is where your extra costs weren't covered by the government's national voucher scheme, like:

  • Costs before the national voucher scheme was introduced
  • Costs where the national voucher scheme wasn't appropriate to support these pupils (e.g. if you provided meals directly to these pupils, or if there weren't any participating supermarkets nearby)
    • You can only claim through this fund for free school meals that were provided over Easter and summer half-term holidays where local supermarkets were not yet part of the national scheme

Funding will also be available to compensate for extra costs that the COVID Summer Food Fund didn't cover. Such costs include:

  • Costs for ordering vouchers from local supermarkets where eligible families couldn't access the supermarkets in this list
  • Costs for arranging food parcels over the summer holidays (note that you could only arrange such food parcels for pupils who were already receiving free school meals before the holidays)

3. Additional cleaning due to confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases 

It covers the extra costs of deep cleaning your school above what you'd normally pay for cleaning. 

Did you pay extra for other things not mentioned here?

If there's other extraordinary costs you've incurred due to coronavirus (between March and July) that you were unable to meet with your existing budget, you'll be able to register the details of these through the claims process. If you have other queries about financial support, contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) here

What's it not for?

  • Covering the costs of wider reopening to more pupils (e.g. costs related to increased routine cleaning)
  • Loss of self-generated income (e.g. letting facilities, providing wrap-around childcare or catering services)
  • Extra staffing to cover the holiday periods
  • SEND provision that your LA organised for pupils with education, health and care (EHC) plans
  • Expected expenditure that your school didn't benefit from (e.g. exam fees after exams were cancelled) 

How much can we get?

You can claim up to the limits below:

Mainstream schools  
250 pupils or fewer £25,000
251 to 500 pupils £30,000
501 to 1000 pupils £50,000
Over 1000 pupils £75,000
Special schools and alternative provision  
All schools £50,000

If your costs exceeded these limits, you'll be able to make a case for more funding when making a claim.

Pupil numbers will be based on:

  • 2 to 4 year-olds - headcount of funded places from January 2020
  • 5 to 16 year-olds - headcount from October 2019 census
  • 16 to 19 year-olds - pupil numbers from 2019 to 2020 academic year allocations

When can we next claim for funding? 

A new claim window will open in autumn 

The first window for claiming costs closed on 21 July 2020. There will be a new claim window open in the autumn term - the ESFA says it'll publish details later in the year.

When will we get the funding we've already claimed for? 

The ESFA will pay this funding direct to local authorities and academies. The ESFA aimed to pay:

Local authorities: by the end of August.

Academies: at the beginning of September.

Until the funding is passed on to your school, you'll need to cover the extra costs you’ve faced from your existing budget.

If you're unable to cover the extra costs right now

Follow your normal process to seek short-term advance payments to help with your cash-flow.

Maintained schools: contact your LA.

Academies: contact the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA).

Keep a record of extra costs

Your headteacher or school business manager needs to keep a record of all your school's coronavirus-related costs in line with your local finance policies.

You’ll need this:

  • For local audit arrangements
  • So you can identify this income and expenditure when you report your accounts
  • In case there are individual enquiries into your claim


This article is based on the Department for Education's guidance on exceptional costs associated with coronavirus.

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