RISING ENERGY COSTS CAUSING PROBLEMS FOR SCHOOLS
The past few years have been difficult for many with the ever increasing energy prices. Not only has this had an impact on the businesses and retail, but also on the education sector.
During the cost of living crisis some schools experienced hikes of 300% on their previous bills giving them difficult decisions to make in regards to cost cutting. With some principles deciding to cut down on teaching assistants, meaning that some pupils and students with special educational needs are suffering.
The Rev Steve Chalke was interviewed by the inews online platform and explained the implications for the Oasis foundation which runs 52 academies across England.
He expressed his concern and spoke about the extortionate bills that had skyrocketed in such a short space of time. In 2021 the bills had gone from £112,000 to £356,000 in 2022, and that was even with the six-month energy price cap in place.
Schools in the UK are facing difficulty due to rising energy costs
The Rev, said; “There’s huge, huge pressure on schools that’s not being met. [The funding announced by Mr Hunt] doesn’t help with the energy costs. We don’t know how long the ceiling on price per unit is going to last, so we don’t even know what’s going to happen towards the end of this academic year.”
“If push comes to shove, we can eat into our reserves — even though we’re not supposed to,” said Rev Chalke. “That means we’ll go bankrupt at a slower rate, but we’ll still go bankrupt in the end, as will many, many schools.”
Also a report in the Evening Standard from this year covered a similar story. It spoke about London schools facing massive energy costs. The article mentioned that schools in the region will be facing 85 million pounds of energy bills when government support runs out.
During the crisis school energy bills were capped under the energy bill relief scheme, but it ended in March and was replaced with a less generous discount scheme.
The Liberal Democrats carried out analysis and found that the average London primary school will see support cut by £55.62 per pupil per year, while for secondary schools the figure is £80.42 per pupil per year. Head teachers will have to pay these additional costs from their budgets leaving them short on resources.
Simon Hawley, head of Stanley Primary School in Teddington , said: “Our school is looking at an increase in our electricity bills from £19,000 to £85,000, which is just unsustainable.” Frightening figures as schools look towards ways of dealing with these crippling prices.
Other schools around the country are also feeling similar pressures. Faye Curran, a science teacher from Hertfordshire, said children who require specialist attention at her secondary school in Essex are being crammed into classrooms with the rest of their year group.
“The situation that’s being created is one of lower and lower quality teaching in schools and obviously a lower number of teachers to go along with it,” she said.
“There are classes that as part of their timetable are taught in a big group because there aren’t enough teachers to teach them. That is and has been the state of teaching for a long time, but adding to that the pressure of the cost of living crisis obviously makes it worse.”
The education sector is always looking at ways to save money, with many schools having recently had smart meters installed on their main incoming gas, electric and water supplies.
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