A head teacher whose school cannot afford textbooks said the new government energy support was insufficient to solve the crisis. Vic Goddard is head of trust made up of four schools in Harlow, Essex, struggling with energy bills. Unfortunately it won’t get close to solving the funding crisis during the six months, let alone when it stops,” he said.
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The government said the support package would be reviewed in three months. Ministers said the six-month scheme would equate to a monthly saving of £4,000 for a school paying £10,000 a month for energy. But Mr Goddard, head of Passmores Academy, said: “It’s good news that they have listened, but it doesn’t go far enough. “We need a longer-term fix, not a sticking plaster for six months.”
His trust is one of 1,700 that have signed up for the government’s energy efficiency scheme, which offers interest-free loans to pay for upgrades. But he said: “The reality is we can’t afford the repayments on those loans at the moment.”
The Department for Education said: “We recognise the financial pressures schools are facing, and this is just one of several measures we have introduced to help ease these burdens.” The government has also provided £148m for a two-year programme to replace school boilers and insulation and made £415m available in interest-free loans.
In the last financial year, schools in England spent £6.7bn on energy – an increase of 13% from the previous year. The National Audit Office has warned that the energy cost is a “significant and growing concern” for schools.
According to the watchdog, the average energy cost per pupil has increased by 27% since 2010. The Department for Education said it worked with energy suppliers to get the best possible school deals.
But Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner said: “This is just a drop in the ocean compared to what is needed.” She added that the government should use the upcoming Budget to provide more school funding. “Theresa May and her ministers cannot keep kicking the can down the road – our children deserve better,” she said.
What do you think of the government’s energy support for schools? Let us know in the comments.
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