SNP Government funding of £50 million will be ring-fenced for the recruitment of approximately 850 extra teachers and around 200 additional support staff as local authorities plan for the re-opening of schools.
Addressing Parliament on Thursday, Education Secretary John Swinney MSP also pledged that £20 million will be allocated to help councils with additional costs associated with new health protection measures, school transport, enhanced cleaning and other essential logistical issues.
A further £3 million will be invested in youth work to support education recovery. The funding breakdown is part of a £100 million package of support announced by Mr Swinney in June.
Clear guidance for schools and councils is being developed by the Education Recovery Group (ERG) to help them prepare for the start of the new term in August.
The SNP Government will announce a final decision on the re-opening of schools on 30 July.
Mr Swinney said:
“The ring-fenced £50 million funding to recruit more teachers and support staff will enable schools to intensify support for children and young people as they return to full time face-to-face education and help to mitigate for learning loss. The final numbers will be dependent on the precise mix of staff recruited and the needs of children and young people.
“The £20 million funding recognises the extremely valuable work of our school cleaners, facilities management and school transport staff, who are essential to the successful delivery of education in Scotland and to whom I want to pay tribute today.
“I also mentioned in my statement on the 23 June that we would be seeking the assistance of the youth work sector in supporting those families and communities who need it most.
“The sector will receive £3 million of investment because it has continued to support and engage children and young people throughout the pandemic, including using digital technology and outreach work to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people’s mental health, learning and development.”
Kenneth Gibson MSP added:
“As we enter a ‘new normal’ for pupils to go return to, this £70 million will go a long way helping education departments acquire the necessary facilities for this and recruit additional staff, also to help with the implementation of safety measures. I know NAC officers will make good use of the funding provided.
“The importance of the separate £3 million for youth work cannot be underestimated – lockdown has had a real impact on some young people’s mental health, increasing demand for support. I welcome this funding.”
While this funding should provide local authorities with the assurance they require to progress plans immediately, the SNP Government continues to work with COSLA to understand the additional costs associated with the school re-opening guidance that each local authority is facing, and how these can be addressed alongside any loss of learning.
The SNP Government and partners are currently developing guidance on health mitigations and precautions that will be in place to allow schools to fully re-open in August and a final decision on school re-opening will be announced on 30 July.