Schools across the UK could move to a three-day week in the autumn term as they struggle to pay teacher’s salaries and rising energy costs.
Many head teachers are now holding ‘crisis meetings’ during the summer holidays with trustees and boards of governors as they plan ahead for schools reopening next month.
The costs are rising faster than school budgets will allow and with teacher pay rises set to be awarded in September it will add another layer of pressure.
Energy costs for some are also expected to rise by 300 percent, The Telegraph reports.
A chief executive of one of the leading academy trusts in the country, who did not want to be named said: “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.”
Schools have been facing considerable pressure as funding per pupil in England has dropped by nine percent between 2010 and 2020.
While the Government has promised to boost school budgets by an extra £7 billion in England by 2023, it will still be lower than 2010 levels when you factor in the rising costs.
Dr Robin Bevan, headmaster of Southend High School for Boys in Essex, told the paper that 'if a four-day week is not already being planned, it will certainly be being considered' by some schools.
He said that his school was only able to operate last year by dipping into its reserves.
He added that while his school is due to receive an income boost of £300,000, it is faced with a £200,000 rise in utility bills as well as additional teacher pay of £70,000, plus it will have to pay support staff a further £40,000, which is more than they had allowed for in their budgets.
Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools were now holding 'crisis meetings' over the summer holidays to work out how to fund the increased costs.
He added that some are planning to cut back on maintenance work or are having to forego resources like textbooks. While Marc Jordan – the chief executive of Creative Education Trust, a multi-academy trust with 17 schools across the East and West Midlands and Norfolk – said, to save on costs, there had been discussions of a 'three-day week'.
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.”