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Rapidly rising energy costs could negatively impact education and hamper recovery efforts, say school leaders

Today (Thurs 28 Apr), school leaders’ union NAHT are releasing the results of a survey of its members on the rising energy costs their schools are facing.

The survey, conducted between 21st March – 5th April 2022, had over 1,000 responses from school leaders in England and showed that almost all respondents (99%) were expecting an increase in their energy costs over the next 12 months.

  • On average, our respondents are anticipating a 106% increase in energy costs, with 16% expecting an increase of 200% or more
  • More than a third of respondents (37%) are predicting a deficit budget by the end of next year as a direct result of increased energy costs
  • Schools reported having to reduce spending on teachers or teaching hours, as well as on teaching assistants, non-educational support and services for children, and investment in maintenance and equipment for school buildings due to rising energy costs.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary for school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “We are hearing quite clearly from our members that rising energy costs will almost certainly have a negative impact on education, and could hamper their recovery efforts.

“For some, the energy price hikes are the equivalent to the cost of a full-time teacher.

“Every penny spent in schools is a choice. These increased energy costs mean that money which could be being spent on pupils is being paid to energy companies instead.

“The government’s attempts to restore school spending to 2010 levels is being rapidly eroded by these and other cost pressures. The government needs to do more to ease the impact of the energy crisis on schools, for children’s sake.”


Anonymous comments from school leaders who completed NAHT’s survey, show the actions they are considering having to take to balance their budgets in the face of rising costs, with many contemplating having to reduce their staff:

  • “I was going to take on a support assistant for a year for SEN but can't afford to commit to a year's salary.”
  • “Possible redundancies”
  • “Reducing supply and staff absence cover”
  • “I’ve thought about leaving to recruit a cheaper HT”
  • “Reduce supply budget”
  • “I am resigning! We can't run the school without proper funding.  We've already had restructures and I don't think we can go any leaner.”


Notes to editor

  • On average, respondents were expecting to pay an additional £26,786 on energy in the next financial year.
  • On average, respondents were expecting their total annual energy bill to be £53,298 in the next financial year.
  • 21% of respondents had used either the Crown Commercial Service’s School Switch service, or one of the DfE’s approved frameworks to receive alternative quotes for energy supply
  • The majority of those who had used the DfE’s services (74%) had not been able to lower their energy costs.
  • The top three actions respondent were taking, or planning to take, as a direct result of rising energy costs, were:
    • Reducing energy consumption (64%)
    • Reducing investment in equipment for the school (54%)
    • Reducing maintenance and/or capital spending (53%)
  • Other actions being taken by members were:
    • Reducing investment in CPD (46%)
    • Reducing the number of teaching assistants / or teaching assistant hours (40%)
    • Reducing non-educational support and services for children (30%)
  • 15% of respondents were reducing the number of teachers / or teaching hours.
First published 28 April 2022