DfE also announces 1,000 more air purifiers for schools – despite previously saying any more would be a ‘waste of taxpayers’ money
Secondary schools in England will receive £1,000 to help support the Covid-19 vaccination programme.
Special schools and alternative provision settings will also receive the one-off payment.
An additional uplift will be provided, based on pupil numbers, the Department for Education (DfE) said today.
The £8 million in funding from NHS England is intended to cover costs such as support staff’s time on days that in-school vaccination is taking place, as well as the time spent exchanging consent forms with parents and the NHS.
Further information on how the NHS funding will be distributed is due to be provided to schools “shortly”.
The government has also confirmed it will be providing an extra 1,000 air cleaning units, bringing the total to 9,000.
Its previous pledge of 8,000 units was attacked by education unions as falling far short of what was required.
Education secretary Nadhim Zahawi previously told the House of Commons that buying extra units would be a “waste of taxpayers’ money”. He referred to “modelling” showing that 8,000 air purifiers was the number needed across schools. This was backed up by Teacher Tapp survey findings, he said.
However, Laura McInerney, co-founder of Teacher Tapp, pointed out at the time that “about half of teachers have said they don’t have a CO2 monitor”.
She said she would expect the percentage of classrooms needing air purifiers (which would require a consistent CO2 reading of over 1500 ppm) to double to 16,000 – or 8 per cent – if all classrooms were measured.
The DfE said that survey findings due to published today showed that “only 3 per cent of settings using carbon dioxide monitors reported sustained high carbon dioxide readings that couldn’t otherwise be addressed”.
Since the government launched its application process, 1,265 education settings have met the DfE’s critieria to receive an air cleaning unit, the DfE said today.
This figure in “is in line with expectations”, the DfE said today. The new survey findings found that “only 3 per cent of settings using carbon dioxide monitors reported sustained high carbon dioxide readings that couldn’t otherwise be addressed”, it added in a statement.
Commenting on today’s announcement, education secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: “Face-to-face education for all students has consistently been my priority, and that is why I am pleased to further strengthen the tools available to schools to manage transmission of the virus, including funding air cleaning units for the small number of classrooms that need them due to poor ventilation, and providing additional NHS funding to free up staff time to engage with the vaccination programme for young people.
“My message remains the same as ever – testing, ventilation and vaccinations are our best weapons against the virus – keep testing, and get your vaccination as soon as possible.”
Kevin Courtney, the NEU joint general secretary, welcomed the effort to increase vaccine take-up but expressed concern that it would not be enough to avoid “the increasing disruption to education, including of exam classes”.
He said: “The government should have invested in ventilation and air filtration before Omicron.
“They should be working much harder to rollout these solutions now. The decision to remove face masks may well prove to be very premature.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, urged the DfE to ensure that every school in need of an air purifier received one “quickly”.
He added: “The news that there will be further air-cleaning devices made available for schools that need them is welcome.
“…The removal of other Covid measures in schools has made good ventilation more important than ever.”
Regarding the £1,000 vaccination payments to schools, he said: “It’s important to note that it is the medical teams that will continue to be responsible for running the vaccination programme.”
However, the first round of vaccinations had shown that schools do face some additional administrative burdens in supporting the medical teams “and it is right that this has been acknowledged”, he added.
Written by: Mandy Law