AS SCHOOLS reopen and pupils return to classrooms, Shropshire Council is to provide funding to support disadvantaged families with buying school uniforms and shoes.

Funding of at least £40 per eligible pupil will be allocated to all Shropshire schools at the start of April.

It follows the government's announcement that it will extend the Covid Winter Grant Scheme until April 16 and provide councils with extra targeted financial support for those in need.

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Ed Potter, Cabinet member for children's services, said he was pleased to be able to offer the support.

He said: "We've already agreed to provided additional financial support towards the cost of food for disadvantaged families outside of school term time and have committed to cover these costs during May half-term.

"I'm really pleased that we can use the majority of this additional funding to support the county's disadvantaged families with the purchase of school uniforms and shoes."

Schools will be advised of their allocations in the next couple of weeks so that they can begin planning how to apply the funding.

As schools are well-placed to determine the most effective means of getting this support to their most vulnerable families, they will have freedom to determine how they apply the funding.

Options could include centrally procuring and distributing uniforms and shoes for disadvantaged pupils, or purchasing vouchers for individual families to use in the stores/supermarkets that supply these items where this is possible.

The funding must be used by the summer half-term at the very latest, but preferably by the end of April 2021.