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Schools spending tens of thousands of pounds on safety measures without financial support from government

Today (Fri 9 October) NAHT, the union which represents leaders in the majority of schools in England, Wales and Northern Ireland publishes new data on the mounting costs of keeping their schools Covid-secure.

NAHT has found that in just the first few weeks since the beginning of term, schools in England have already spent on average £8,017 implementing safety measures required by government guidance.

The survey data also shows that schools have already lost an average £9,755 in income this term as Covid restrictions means there has been a drop in demand for school facilities.

These stark findings come on the back of earlier data from NAHT, released in July, showing that between March and September schools had already spent an average of £9,990 and, on average, faced lost income of £15,915.

Our new survey of over 2000 school leaders demonstrates how the financial pressures on schools from Covid are mounting.

There has been a 17 percentage point (ppt) increase in those reporting that they are incurring (or expect to incur) additional staff costs for teaching assistant time, compared to when we last asked school leaders about additional costs; a 10 ppt increase in respondents experiencing additional costs for cleaners or site staff; and a 9 ppt increase in those having to set up additional staff bases such as staff rooms. [1]

Despite this, the government has insisted that schools will have no access to financial support this term.

Whilst the government originally suggested it would cover the additional costs schools faced in the summer term, today NAHT can reveal that almost three quarters of those who responded to the survey said that they had not received any of the exceptional costs funding announced by the DfE. Of those that had received money, more than half (52%) said it had reimbursed less than half of their additional expenditure due to Covid.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “These costs are not optional for schools, they are required by the government’s own guidance. Schools need the government to make good these unanticipated but necessary costs in order to protect school budgets so that pupils’ education is not adversely affected. It is frankly baffling that despite this, the government is refusing to provide schools with any financial support when it comes to Covid costs this term.

“School budgets for this year were allocated prior to the outbreak of Covid-19 and so did not take into account the additional spending required. This means that every pound spent on new safety measures, is a pound that can no longer be spent on pupils’ education.

“Not only will this potentially eat into any ‘catch-up’ funds schools receive, but it could push many into a deficit position. School budgets were under huge pressure already and this could be enough to send many over the edge.

“Schools are now facing the possibility of these costs spiralling as we move into the winter months ahead. We are calling on government to look at this again, and ensure that schools are given the resources they need to make them as safe as possible for pupils and staff.”

The top Covid costs schools reported were:

  • Cleaning supplies (such as gel, sanitiser and disinfectant), which 99% of respondents had spent extra money on
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE) – 83%
  • Sundries (such as pedal bins) – 82%
  • Signage, traffic cones, tape and barriers – 78%
  • Additional staff costs: cleaners or site staff – 74%
  • Facilitating remote learning for pupils – 68%
  • Additional hand washing stations – 53%


NAHT’s survey had 2,047 responses from school leaders in England.


[1] Compared to an NAHT survey in June of 1341 members on costs covering the period March to September 2020


Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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