London: Rachael Warwick, who oversees three schools in the South East of England, had to sign a new contract to heat and light the building at a tariff she described as “bringing to tears”.
Lead teacher at Ridgeway Education Trust in Oxfordshire says her annual bill would increase from £250,000 to £1.1m ($290,000 to $1.3m) if the school she runs uses the same amount of energy as before I’m calculating.
“It’s huge…we are looking for an additional £900,000 of unbudgeted funds,” she told AFP, adding that paying this would exhaust the financial reserves within a year.
Schools within the trust will do “the smartest thing” to cut energy use, but raising such a large sum of money would require laying off 30 teachers, she added.
Publicly funded schools in the UK are sounding alarm bells as soaring energy prices hit already tightly constrained budgets. This is because schools are expanding their activities after the pandemic has been brought under control.
UK homes and businesses are facing a severe economic blow from skyrocketing energy prices in the post-pandemic era, exacerbated by Russia’s war with Ukraine.
“We are aware of the inflationary pressures facing schools and know that rising costs will affect schools differently,” a spokesman for the government’s education department told AFP.
The ministry said it encouraged energy trading, noting a £4 billion increase in school funding announced last year.
England’s Children’s Commissioner, Rachel De Souza, vowed in an interview with The Telegraph late Friday that “schools should never be closed”.
– I forgot –
In campaigning to become the next Conservative Party leader and UK Prime Minister, neither Liz Truss nor her rival Rishi Sunak has made a firm commitment to allowing schools to bear the enormous additional costs.
“I really hope things are done with the necessary urgency when we have a new prime minister,” said Warwick, noting that the energy crisis will affect all sectors, including health, but ” We can’t forget school. It’s an essential public service.”
She called on the government to cap energy prices in schools as well as in homes.
“I think Liz Truss has been very clear about what her priorities are. A lot about tax cuts. But she doesn’t mention bailing out public sector agencies.
“The public sector – schools and other institutions – seems to be a bit forgotten.”
Principals and unions are asking the government to do more.
Julian Gravatt, deputy chief executive of the Association of Universities, which includes institutions teaching 16-year-olds, said: to 18.
“We need to do something. I think this is a national problem and it should be seen as such,” said the principal of Exeter Road Community Primary School in Exmouth, South West England. NAHT Principals Guild President Paul Gosling said.
– deficit –
Starting next month, Gosling’s small school with hundreds of students will have to switch to new energy contracts at current market prices.
He fears it could cost up to £60,000. This is three times his current amount.
“Many schools predict they will be in the red this year if the government does not intervene,” said NAHT General Secretary Paul Whiteman.
Education is a devolved concern, schools and policy are the responsibilities of devolved governments in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
In England, where the British government in London is responsible, public schools are either funded directly by local authorities or classified as “academies” with greater autonomy in budgeting, reforms introduced by former Prime Minister Tony Blair. increase.
The school is not a for-profit enterprise, but the UK government has not promised further assistance with utility bills.
Schools “need to lay off staff and cancel extracurricular activities, all of which will help schools recover,” Dickens said.
“These things have to be turned off so the school can keep the heat and lights on.”
Dickens said schools have been “underfunded” since 2010, when Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron’s government introduced “austerity measures” after the 2008 global financial crisis.
The government recently increased available funding, but the newspaper’s editor said this would be “wiped out” by “new and unforeseen costs” including energy.