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Education Minister Peter Weir has welcomed funding of almost £64 million to help schools manage Education Authority pressures, COVID-19 pressures and for free school meals.

The funding, which has been allocated as part of the October monitoring round, includes £49.4 million to cover additional costs such as maintenance, staffing, cleaning and other pressures, and £12.8 million to cover for a range of pressures including those in Special Educational Needs, and schools maintenance. There is also £1.4 million to cover free school meals funding over the extended half-term break.

The Minister said: “I want to welcome this extra funding which will help my Department, the Education Authority and schools in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Schools and education settings are facing increased costs to help them maintain a safe environment for pupils, including additional cleaning and hiring more staff. We are also facing increased demand for free schools meals and uniform grants.

“I am also pleased that we will be able to fund resources for blended learning and provide support for childcare.

“Principals and school staff are working in a very challenging environment and it is important that they have the resources they need to keep our schools safe for our pupils.”