Call to plug £1m Covid-19 funding gap for neediest pupils in borough

an image showing pupils sitting an exam

Barking and Dagenham Council wants the government to rethink plans which it says would result in schools in the borough losing £1.2million. - Credit: PA

The town hall is urging ministers to plug a £1million funding gap to help pupils from needy families.

Councillors from Barking and Dagenham Council passed a motion calling for more money at a meeting on Wednesday, July 21.

Evelyn Carpenter. Picture: LBBD

Evelyn Carpenter. Picture: LBBD - Credit: Archant

Cllr Evelyn Carpenter, the council's education cabinet chief, said: "I don't know whether this motion will have an impact on the government, but at least our schools will know that we are behind them."

After Covid-19, the government is providing more funds for schools to increase their provision for disadvantaged pupils.

Overall, it has committed £3billion to help youngsters recover from time lost in class. 

One Covid recovery pot of funding sees £6,000 allocated per primary and £22,000 per secondary across England.

A £1.4billion education recovery plan will provide £50 per pupil for tutoring as well as training for teachers.

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But by the local authority's reckoning, the funding "falls far short" of what is needed to help the most disadvantaged pupils to catch up on learning lost over the past 16 months in Barking and Dagenham.

Lockdowns followed by periods of self-isolation will have "a significant impact" on the educational achievement of the neediest pupils, a council document states.

The town hall accuses the government of moving the goalposts, saying the Department for Education changed the date at which it calculates who is eligible for pupil premium funding from January to October.

The pupil premium is extra funding for schools to help disadvantaged pupils close the gap in results between them and their peers.

Many children in England became eligible between October and January for the funding, leading to a £150m national funding shortfall next academic year, the local authority maintains.

It estimates the funding gap for schools in the borough will be £1.2m as a result of the change and wants the government to plug the shortfall with an interim payment.

Cllr Dominic Twomey warned in the meeting that lack of funding would fuel cuts in resources and staff in the borough.

"This is an attack on our children and teachers and should not be allowed," he said.