Government to upgrade energy efficiency in schools
The Department for Education has announced that schools and colleges in England will be allocated a share of £500 million to spend on energy efficiency upgrades. They said this is to help schools and colleges to save on bills during the winter months and manage energy consumption.
This will help institutions save money and make them more energy efficient during the cold period and increase winter resilience for future years.
On average, estimations show that a primary school will receive approximately £16,000, a secondary school will get £42,000 and a further education college group will get £290,000.
Improvements could include installing better heating controls, insulation to reduce heat loss from pipes or switching to energy efficient lighting.
The government said this builds on their ‘Energy Relief Scheme’, which they claim is supporting schools and colleges this winter, and will run until the spring.
The government also said they are investing an extra £2 billion funding for schools next year and the year after, which is the highest investment in England schools in history.
The £2 billion of new money will be allocated between mainstream schools and high needs funding. Local councils will get an extra £400 million for high needs budgets, to help support children with special educational needs or disabilities.
The government added that academies, maintained mainstream schools and special schools will all be guaranteed a funding boost, which is said to arrive from April next year.
This will mean that average funding per pupil for mainstream schools will increase by approximately five percent overall, in the next financial year compared to 2022-23.
A typical primary school with 200 pupils will get approximately £28,000, and secondary schools with around 900 pupils will get approximately £170,000. In total schools will be receiving £58.8 billion in 2024-25.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said: “Russia’s illegal war in Ukraine is driving up energy prices worldwide, so it is important to look at the things we can do to make classrooms more energy efficient and resilient to price fluctuations.
“We’re putting this cash in the hands of school and college leaders quickly, so they can decide what work is needed and so that our brilliant teachers can focus on teaching in a warm and safe environment.
“Education is rightly a top priority for this government and we will continue to strive to provide every child with a world-class education.”
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “Given the spiralling costs of energy and the environmental crisis, trying to improve the energy efficiency of existing school buildings is the right thing to be doing.
“This additional funding should allow schools to make some small-scale improvements to help with the energy efficiency of their buildings.
“Schools will continue to face rapidly rising energy bills and we know many are worried about what will happen when the current support package for bills expires.
“We would urge the government to make this the start of a sustained, long-term commitment to improving the energy efficiency of the school estate.”
Schools climate campaign, Let’s Go Zero, also commented on the news.
Alex Green, program manager at Let’s Go Zero, said: “While we welcome the government’s recognition that schools and colleges are facing a tough winter and need help managing their skyrocketing energy bills, we must be clear that this is merely a sticking plaster when a long-term solution is desperately needed.
“If this money is used wisely, it can help schools lower their bills, and make their buildings more energy efficient.
“But to really solve the problem of money and carbon emissions leaking from schools and colleges every day, we need the government to commit to adapting and retrofitting every school in the UK.
“This will futureproof schools and colleges once and for all, as well as delivering much needed green skills jobs in every corner of the country. Without a comprehensive fix, we will be doomed to repeat these piecemeal measures every winter.”
New guidance has also been published today (6 December) to support schools to maximise energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability and resilience this winter and beyond.