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A PRIMARY school head has introduced a weekly “dark day” when the school’s lights are left off to save on electricity bills, the Morning Star can reveal.
The Yorkshire school, which has not been named, has been forced to take the extreme measure in response to a funding crisis which is affecting educators nationwide.
Other schools are closing at lunchtime on Fridays to cut running costs, while some head teachers are working shifts at schools other than their own to raise money for essentials.
Some heads are cleaning school toilets and facilities, as well as doing the job of caretakers, as cuts have seen both caretakers and cleaning staff given the chop.
A catalogue of “horror” stories has been exposed by campaigners in Calderdale in West Yorkshire, but teaching unions say it is being repeated across the country as hundreds of schools face a worsening funding crisis.
Sue McMahon is involved in campaign group Calderdale Against School Cuts. She is a former divisional organiser for the National Union of Teachers and is now retired.
She said local campaigners were regularly going into schools to discover the effects of Tory cuts.
“In one primary school the head introduced a weekly ‘dark day’ when the lights are left off to save money, and they work in the dark,” she said.
She said she promised the head teacher that she would not name the school.
“But we are discovering horror stories," Ms McMahon said. “One head leaves his own school leaving his deputy to take over, and does a shift at another school. He gets paid for that and uses the money to subsidise his own school’s finances.
“There have been a lot of redundancies. People like meals supervisors have gone, so the head has to wipe the tables down when the children have finished eating.”
Ms McMahon said that the Brexit issue was “masking” the government’s activities in slashing school budgets.
But she said that in her own district, Calderdale in West Yorkshire, local schools suffered a cut in government funding of £359 per pupil in Halifax and £222 per pupil in Calder Valley — a situation being repeated across the country.
“Schools are being asked to do more with less,” she said. “Calderdale Against School Cuts (CASC) will be highlighting the funding crisis in our communities. The underfunding of our schools is a crisis that the government needs to address now, before it’s too late.”
The group is one of dozens nationally campaigning against school cuts.
CASC asked Halifax-based Calderdale Borough Council to pass a motion opposing the cuts and asking the government to restore schools’ budgets.
“The Conservatives voted against the motion,” she said. “Anything we say just washes over them.”
National Education Union joint general secretary Kevin Courtney said: “The situation is intolerable.
“Children and young people are being short-changed by a government that believes education can be run on a shoestring.
“This situation cannot go on. We urgently need to see a reversal of the real-terms cuts to school budgets since 2010.”
The Department for Education claims it has given every local authority in England more money for every pupil in every school since 2017.
Schools spend an average of £90,000 a year on energy, according to the department.
The department advises schools to use its energy price comparison service School Switch in order to get the best deals.
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