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West Yorkshire school forced to switch off lights once a week

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Published by The Stray FM News Team at 8:55am 18th April 2019.

Picture: File pic of a school

A West Yorkshire school has been turning off the lights one day a week and calling it a "dark day" to save money.

  • It's to try and balance the school books.
  • It comes as new research highlights the scale of money worries in both primary and secondary schools in England.

The campaign group Calderdale Against School Cuts told Sky News the unidentified Yorkshire school has taken the move to enable them to spend money elsewhere.

Sue McMahon from the group said:

"At this particular school they call them dark days - the lights just aren't turned on.

"What a terrible situation that is it really has come to a crunch point if that is happening."

It comes as new research from the Sutton Trust that surveyed 1,678 teachers found 69% of secondary school heads have had to cut teaching staff to save money.

At Ash Green Community Primary School near Halifax, they are fixing part of the roof over the Easter holiday after leaks led to dark brown staining on the ceiling and water dripping on pupils on rainy days.

It is costing £50,000 which will impact on what else the headteacher Mungo Sheppard can spend elsewhere. He readily admits some decisions he now makes are entirely based on finance, not always what is best for his children.

In his view the record levels of funding from the Department for Education still aren't keeping pace with the spiralling costs he is trying to juggle.

Mr Sheppard said:

"This isn't a bleeding heart story...it just isn't working for so many schools.

"If you are given more money for your shopping that's fine but if that shopping is costing you more than it did and other things you have to have are now no longer free it just doesn't work as it should."

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

"Since 2017, we have given every local authority more money for every five to 16-year-old in every school and made funding fairer across the country.

"There are more teachers in our schools than in 2010 and the number of teaching assistants has increased by a fifth between 2011 and 2017.

"We recognise the budgeting challenges schools face and have introduced a wide range of practical support to help schools and head teachers, to help schools make the most of every pound on non-staff costs."

However the National Secretary of the GMB union, Rehana Azam, argued austerity was jeopardising the education of an entire generation.

She said:

"Without support staff - the hidden professionals of the education system - teachers are being left with completely unmanageable workloads, and schools can't function if buildings can't be secured and children can't be fed.

"Ministers need to stop denying that school budgets are being cut in the face of all the evidence."

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