Schools ‘could cut staff as energy bills skyrocket’

Almost one-in-three schools in the North East could be put into deficit because of rising costs, according to a new report

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Schools may become the next victim of soaring energy prices as educational institutions in the North East could face cuts in their staff and lessons to limit their expenses.

Regional education charity Schools North East conducted a survey that showed that almost 30% of schools could be put into deficit because of rising costs.

Nearly 42% of schools surveyed expected to have to use reserves to meet these costs and would have to consider staffing restructures and reduced curriculum spending.

Paul Whiteman, General Secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers told ELN: “Like every household and business, schools are facing rises in energy costs that could cripple their budgets – budgets that are already stretched to breaking point.

“The government needs to remember that every penny diverted to paying increased energy bills is a penny that can’t be spent on children’s learning and wellbeing. It is pupils that could suffer if they don’t take action to help.”

A few months ago, a school in Bristol reportedly asked pupils to wear warm clothes as it planned to limit the hours it switched on the heating to avoid rising energy bills.

A Department for Education spokesperson told ELN: “We recognise schools may be facing cost pressures in the coming months, particularly where energy prices have increased and we are looking carefully at how these rises will impact schools and considering what additional support we could offer.

“Cost increases should be seen in the wider context of funding for schools. In 2022-23, core schools funding will increase by £4 billion compared to 2021-22 – a 7% cash terms per pupil boost – and this will help schools to meet wider cost pressures, including energy prices.

“All schools can access a range of tools to help them get the best value from their resources, including recommended deals for energy costs and services related to energy.”

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