What can covid catch-up funding be spent on?

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The Government has allocated £650 million for the 2020-21 academic year as a one-off Covid catch-up premium. This equates to £80 per Reception to Year 11 student in mainstream schools.

The funding is aimed at reducing the impacts of the school closures. It should be used to ensure students have access to tailored support to catch up on lost learning. It’s being paid in three tranches, one in each of the 2020-21 terms. Find out how much funding your school is eligible for, and when you will receive it, in our covid catch-up premium calculator.

Importantly, while the funding is allocated per student, it doesn’t have to be spent equally on each student. According to the Department for Education, “schools should use the sum available to them as a single total from which to prioritise support for pupils according to their need”. They should focus on “specific activities which will help pupils catch up on missed education”, in line with curriculum expectations for the current academic year.

The DofE has also stated it is likely some of the students in greatest need of “catch-up” support will already be in receipt of the Pupil Premium, or be identified as having additional needs. As such, the funding (and strategies) can be combined into a single pool. As well as ensuring support is properly funded, this should help schools to evidence the impact of spend and simplify reporting.

Just as there are no rules that the £80 funding per student needs to be spent equally between students, there are also no rules about what the money can or cannot be spent on – just that it should help students to catch up on lost learning. This, of course, means that the optimum spending pattern will be unique to each school.

However, you can take inspiration from the EEF’s suggestions. It’s published a Covid-19 Support Guide for Schools that summarises the different support strategies schools may find helpful, from teaching and whole-school approaches to targeted and wider strategies.

We’ve summarised each point below. You may choose not to select suggestions from all sections – as the guide itself notes, “The challenge of implementation often means that less is more: selecting a small number of priorities and giving them the best chance of success is a safer bet than creating a long list of strategies that becomes hard to manage.”

1. Teaching and whole-school strategiesSupporting great teaching, and student assessment and feedback

Ensuring every teacher has adequate support ensures the best outcomes for students. Funding could be used for CPD – for example to support curriculum planning or training in effective use of technology.

Ongoing student assessment (of wellbeing as well as academic progress) to determine the impact of closures on each student is critical in determining how to effectively support them and identify those in need of additional catch-up support.

2. Targeted approachesOne-to-one and small group tuition, intervention programmes and extended school time

High quality one-to-one and small-group tuition, focused on particular areas of need – whether academic, behavioural, social or emotional – is an impactful catch-up strategy. The EEF notes that  “programmes are likely to have the greatest impact where they meet a specific need”, and are sustained and consistent over time. These structured interventions are especially helpful for students who have fallen behind in literacy and numeracy.

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Additional academic or pastoral support could be provided after the school day – an approach that requires support from parents as well as staff.

3. Wider strategiesSupporting parents and carers, access to technology and summer support

Parent engagement is a key contributor to student attendance, engagement and progress. You could offer advice about effective strategies for particular aspects of learning, such as reading or boosting vocabulary, and provide resources such as books or technology.

With continuing interruptions to class-based learning, home access to technology is  crucial in enabling students to learn effectively. The funding could be used to ensure students have devices available at home. It could also be spent on in-school technology and staff training to make the most of it.

EdTech tools offer consistency. They are perfectly suited to class-based, blended and remote learning approaches, meaning learning can continue through the disruption of school closures. Literacy and vocabulary programmes such as Bedrock Vocabulary are tailored to individual students’ ability and pace and provide instant motivational feedback. They also allow students to study independently – ideal if they are learning from home – while teachers and parents can monitor usage and progress via a linked account.

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Designated support during the summer holidays can help students socially and academically, ensuring they return to school ready to learn. These should include high-quality academic support such as small-group tuition from teachers or trained tutors.

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