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Tuesday, September 27, 2022

#UK Schools Consider Three-Day Week As They Struggle To Pay Rising Teacher Salaries

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Schools in the United Kingdom are reportedly considering three or four-day weeks to manage teacher pay rises and soaring oaring energy bills.

According to reports, headteachers are currently trying to work out ways to save costs as budgets come under increased pressure.

Schools are battling with huge inflation, which could pass 15 percent next year.

Teacher pay rises set to be awarded in September will add another pressure on schools’ already-straightened finances.

Energy costs in some areas are predicted to rise by 300 percent.

A chief executive of one of the leading academy trusts in the country 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.

“This is not a plaintive plea of poverty. Nor is it the usual begging bowl moment ahead of a spending review – this is serious stuff,” he said.

Funding per pupil in England dropped by nine percent between 2010 and 2020.

Although the Government promised an additional £7 billion for school budgets in England by 2024, the Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that spending per pupil will still be lower than 2010 levels in real terms.

Dr. Robin Bevan, the headmaster of Southend High School for Boys in Essex, said: “If a four-day week is not already being planned, it will certainly be being considered by some schools.

“In the absence of long overdue above-inflation investment in school funding, it’ll become a realistic prospect sooner rather than later,” he said.

He added that his school was forced to dip into its limited reserves to keep operating. While its income will receive a £300,000 boost, it will be hit by a £2200,000 rise in its utility bills, plus additional teacher pay costs of £70,000 and another £40,000 outside its budget for support staff.

Dr Bevan described the future as ‘exceptionally bleak’ and said costs were rising faster than budgets can adapt.

A spokesman 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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