Cost of learning: South Yorkshire school budgeting for £100,000 rise in energy bill

Report by ITV Calendar journalist Emma Wilkinson

Schools say they are under serious pressure and putting recruitment on hold because of rocketing energy bills.

Wales High School, near Rotherham, is budgeting for its energy bill to almost double and increase by £100,000 in the next year.

Headteacher, Pepe Di'Iasio, has always been concerned about tight budgets, but the rising cost of energy is currently his biggest worry.

He said: "They are astronomical, we're looking at increases of nearly £100,000 in the next year. We are an old school building, designed in the 1970's."

He added that the school's budget has mainly been used for recovery so all the students can catch up following lockdown and school closures during the pandemic.

The estimated £100,000 to cover energy costs would have covered the salary of three new teachers in the school, the headteacher said.

Unions say Pepe is not alone in having to make difficult choices with many schools putting recruitment on hold.

Steve Scott, from the National Education Union, said it is a particular worry for rural schools who are already understaffed.

The Department for Education said a £4 billion increase in core funding will helps schools meet wider cost pressures, including energy.

In a statement, they said: "We recognise schools may be facing cost pressures in the coming months, particularly where energy prices have increased.

"All schools can access a range of tools to help them get the best value from their resources, including recommended deals for energy costs and services related to energy."

While students and teachers at Wales High School are working to come up with ways to bring costs down, Mr Di'Iasio believes any changes will still cost money.

He said: "These are uncertain times and that is money that could have been going direct to young people and should be directly going towards young people. We welcome any support the government can provide."