Schools across the country are warning that they may have to make cutbacks to meet the rising costs of energy bills. For example, the Sweyne Park School in Essex is facing a gas bill of £580,000 under a new tariff in October – an increase of 346% on its current bill of £130,000.
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Finance director Simon Smith has said that it is \”without a doubt\” that any changes to staffing or classes would affect pupils.
The government has acknowledged that funding increases in costs are making it \”broadly affordable\” for schools. However, many are still struggling to keep up with the rising prices.
Solar panels have been installed on one of the school\’s teaching blocks, but most of the school still relies on traditional forms of energy. With bills set to continue rising, more schools will likely have to make cutbacks shortly.
According to the Guardian, the National Union of Teachers (NUT) has warned that the \” escalating energy costs are leading many schools towards a financial crisis\”.
The NUT\’s general secretary, Christine Blower, has said that the government needs to provide more funding to schools to help them meet these rising costs.
\”The Government cannot simply shrug its shoulders and say that it is up to individual schools or local authorities to make savings,\” she said.
\”It must take action now to ensure that all schools have the resources to keep bills down and protect teaching and learning.\”
At Kesgrave High, another state school near Ipswich, head teacher Julia Upton said she was \”nervous\” about the compromises that would need to be made.
It has energy-efficient windows fitted, and roofing is being re-felted and re-insulated.
\”If we end up having to lose some staff because of those financial pressures, it will only create more burden on those that remain,\” she said.
\”On the one hand, we are trying to attract staff into the profession and keep them by a pay award, but on the other, we are probably making conditions more challenging for them.\”
The rising cost of energy bills is just one of the many challenges schools are currently facing. We will likely see more cutbacks and compromises shortly, with budgets already stretched thin.
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