Headteachers have said that they are anticipating large increases in their school energy bills, a new survey has revealed, with some schools forced to reduce the number of teaching hours to save money.
The poll, conducted by NAHT school leaders’ union found on average that, headteachers were expecting a 106 per cent increase in energy costs in their schools over the next twelve months.
The polling took place between 21 March 5 April and included over 1,000 respondents. It suggested that 99 per cent of headteachers were expecting that their schools’ energy costs would increase over the next year.
A total of 16 per cent said they were expecting costs to increase by 200 per cent or more.
More than one third of headteachers – 37 per cent– said that they predicted a budget deficit by the end of next year due to the increased energy bills.
As a result, schools said they had been forced to cut spending on teaching, teaching assistants and lesson time.
They had also had to cut money spent on maintenance and equipment for school buildings due to surging heating costs.
“We are hearing quite clearly from our members that rising energy costs will almost certainly have a negative impact on education, and could hamper their recovery efforts,” said Paul Whiteman, NAHT general secretary.
“For some, the energy price hikes are the equivalent to the cost of a full-time teacher.
“Every penny spent in schools is a choice. These increased energy costs mean that money which could be being spent on pupils is being paid to energy companies instead.”
He added: “The government’s attempts to restore school spending to 2010 levels is being rapidly eroded by these and other cost pressures. The government needs to do more to ease the impact of the energy crisis on schools, for children’s sake.”
Some respondents to the survey said that they were resigning or had thought about leaving so that a cheaper headteacher could be recruited in their place.
Meanwhile some reported that “possible redundancies” or reducing staff absence cover could be a result of rising costs.
Overall, headteachers said that they were expecting to pay an extra £26,786 for energy in the next financial year.
On average, respondents said that they were expecting their total annual energy bill to reach £53,298.
Nearly two-thirds said that they would try to cut down on their school’s energy consumption while over half said they would cut down spending on equipment for the school.
Elsewhere, 15 per cent of the poll’s respondents said they were going to have to reduce the number of teachers or teaching hours to save money and 30 per cent said they would have to cut down on non-educational support and services for pupils.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “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 per cent cash terms per pupil boost – and this will help schools to meet wider cost pressures, including energy prices.”
They went on: “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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