Revealed: Academy chain's £12m Covid bill

New accounts show the massive costs facing Oasis multi-academy trust on Covid security and remote learning

John Roberts

Academy chain Oasis Community Learning has faced costs of more than £12m responding to the Covid crisis

A major multi-academy trust is facing costs of more than £12 million to meet the demands of the Covid crisis.

Accounts for Oasis Community Learning show it has extra cleaning costs of more than £1 million and has decided to spent close to £10 million providing iPads to ensure that all of its pupils can learn remotely.

The news comes as school leaders warn that schools need more funding from government to meet the additional costs Covid is creating.

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New accounts show the impact that the pandemic has had on the Oasis academy chain.

The trust, which runs more than 50 schools across the country, has lost almost £500,000 through lost trading income in 2019-20 after the country was plunged into lockdown.

Covid: Academy chain spends £1m on extra cleaning

Oasis also faced extra costs of just over £500,000 last year as a result of Covid safety measures and remote learning but said that these were offset by other savings, such as reduced expenses, staff vacancies not being filled, exam fees and catering costs.

The report warns that the real impact of the pandemic on its financial position will be felt in 2020-21.

It says the extra costs it faces come in two categories: making schools Covid secure and supporting remote learning.

The accounts show that in 2020-21 Oasis Community Learning will face additional cleaning costs exceeding £1 million.

The report adds: “At current rates of consumption, we are expecting to spend between £700,000 and £1 million on personal protective equipment and alterations to our buildings.”

The largest cost faced by the trust is through a project to provide laptops to all its students.

Oasis’ accounts say: “Lockdown highlighted the need to ensure all our students had access to appropriate technology to enable to the develop their learning.

"We will therefore be issuing iPads to all our students in the 20-21 academic year in one of the largest educational IT deployments in the country.”

The programme will be funded by the trust over three years.

However, despite the extra Covid costs, the accounts show the trust had a £2,137,000 revenue surplus at the end of 2019-20 and cash balances within the trust stood at £34 million – up from £26 million a year earlier.

The accounts say that this increase was “predominantly due to delays getting major capital projects completed".

Yesterday Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, urged chancellor Rishi Sunak to announce more funding for schools in his Budget to meet the extra costs associated with Covid. However, there were no announcements of extra funding for schools in today's Budget.

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John Roberts

John Roberts

John Roberts is North of England reporter for Tes

Find me on Twitter @JohnGRoberts

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