£1,000 payment to schools to support vaccination programme

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 with an additional uplift based on pupil numbers, the Department for Education (DfE) said.

The £8 million in funding from NHS England will cover, for example, a member of support staff’s time on the day that in-school vaccination is taking place, as well as the time spent exchanging consent forms with parents and the NHS prior to the visit.

The DfE said more than 50% of 12 to 15-year-olds – more than 1.5 million people – have now had at least one dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, the Government has committed to delivering up to 9,000 air cleaning units to early years, schools and colleges to improve ventilation in classrooms.

It confirmed it will be providing air cleaning units in response to all eligible applications and have bought an extra 1,000 units to do so.

Since the Government launched its application process, 1,265 education settings have made valid applications to receive an air cleaning unit.

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.”

Nick Hulme, NHS vaccination lead for 12 to 15-year-olds, said: “The additional £8 million in investment from the NHS will aim to further support schools to roll out the vaccine.

“It is vitally important that families get their young ones protected – either in school, through an appointment booked online at a vaccine centre or at one of hundreds of walk-in sites.”

Kevin Courtney, NEU joint general secretary, said: “We welcome all efforts to increase vaccine take up.

“There has to be a real concern however that vaccination will not be enough or fast enough to stop the increasing disruption to education including of exam classes.

“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 facemasks may well prove to be very premature.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “The news that there will be further air-cleaning devices made available for schools that need them is welcome.

“We urge DfE to continue to monitor the situation carefully and ensure that every school that needs such a device receives one quickly.

“The removal of other Covid measures in schools has made good ventilation more important than ever.

“The additional payment to secondary schools to support the next stage of the vaccination programme is also welcome.

“It’s important to note that it is the medical teams that will continue to be responsible for running the vaccination programme.

“However, we learnt from the first round of vaccinations that schools do face some additional administrative burdens in supporting the medical teams and it is right that this has been acknowledged.”

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