Schools Across The UK Considering Three-Day Week As Costs Soar | TOTUM
Ben HaywardAugust 14th
2022

UK schools could move to a three-day week in the autumn term as they struggle to pay teacher’s salaries amid spiralling energy costs.

Head teachers are reportedly holding ‘crisis meetings’ with trustees and governors as they make plans for schools reopening in September. 

With running costs including energy and food rising faster than school budgets will allow - and teacher pay rises set to be awarded in September - school leaders are considering drastic action to cope. 

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Energy costs for some schools are expected to rise by nearly 300% according to a report in The Telegraph, with a chief executive of one of the leading academy trusts in the country, saying:

“Shorter school days, fewer after school clubs and enrichment opportunities and draconian restrictions on energy usage will become a reality for all trusts and the situation is particularly challenging for smaller trusts and standalone schools.”

Pressures have now been mounting on schools for over a decade, with funding per pupil in England dropping by nine percent between 2010 and 2020.

Even with the government’s promised £7 billion to boost school budgets in England by 2023, it will still represent a reduction compared to 2010 levels when rising costs are factored into the equation. 

Dr Robin Bevan, headmaster of Southend High School for Boys in Essex, told the Telegraph that 'if a four-day week is not already being planned, it will certainly be being considered’ adding that his school was only able to operate last year by dipping into its reserves.

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Dr Bevan added that although his school will receive an income boost of £300,000, this will be eaten up by a £200,000 rise in utility bills, additional teacher pay of £70,000 and support staff pay of £40,000.

The general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, Geoff Barton, said schools were holding 'crisis meetings' over the summer holidays to work out how to fund the increased costs, with some reportedly planning to cut back on all sorts of costs including  maintenance work and replacing textbooks. 

Marc Jordan, chief executive of Creative Education Trust, a multi-academy trust with 17 schools across the East and West Midlands and Norfolk said there had been discussions of a 'three-day week’ among leaders to reduce spiralling costs. 

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “We recognise that schools – much like the wider economy – are facing increased costs, including on energy and staff pay.

“Our schools white paper set out our expectation that the school week should last a minimum of 32.5 hours - the current average - for all mainstream state-funded schools. Thousands of schools already deliver this length of week within existing budgets and we expect current funding plans to account for this.”

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