Schools ‘considering three day week’ due to soaring energy bills and rising teacher salaries

Trust leader reportedly says shorter school days ‘will become reality’

Zoe Tidman
Tuesday 16 August 2022 16:46 BST

Related: Cost of living: Expert warns energy bills could soar to £5,000 a year

Schools are reportedly considering three or four-day weeks to manage soaring energy bills and teacher pay rises.

Headteachers and academy trust leaders are having to think of ways to save costs as budgets come under increased pressure.

Schools are grappling with rocketing inflation and budget increases failing to keep up with soaring rates, which could surpass 15 per cent next year.

Teachers have also warned schools were on the brink of a “full-blown crisis” by having to foot the bill for the recent pay increase for teachers, as well as rising energy bills.

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Some are now considering cutting the school week to manage their budgets, according to The Telegraph.

Marc Jordan, the chief executive of a multi-academy trust that runs 17 schools across the Midlands and Norfolk, said he had “heard mutterings of a three-day week to save on energy costs”.

Meanwhile, the Creative Education Trust was considering a recruitment freeze and scrapping Covid catch-up programmes to deal with rising school costs.

Dr Robin Bevan, a top Essex grammar school headteacher, told The Telegraph: “If a four-day week is not already being planned, it will certainly be being considered” by some schools.

“In the absence of long overdue above-inflation investment in school funding, it’ll become a realistic prospect sooner rather than later,” the Southend High School for Boys school leader reportedly added.

Meanwhile, a chief executive of a large academy trust told the newspaper “shorter school days” and “draconian restrictions on energy usage” will “become a reality for all trusts”.

A Department for Education spokesperson said school weeks should be no less than 32.5 hours, which is the current average. “Thousands of schools already deliver this length of week within existing budgets and we expect current funding plans to account for this,” they said.

The spokesperson added: “We recognise that schools – much like the wider economy – are facing increased costs, including on energy and staff pay.”

Schools will be given a £7bn budget increase by the 2024-2025 academic year, which works out at a 7 per cent rise in cash terms per pupil, they said.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has found the £4bn budget increase for the coming academic year looked “just about affordable” on average, but has warned next year looks “more problematic”.

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