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£500 million to future-proof schools and colleges in England with energy efficiency upgrades

Gillian Keegan

Investment to shield schools and colleges from high energy bills and boost to budgets

  • The government is investing £500 million to futureproof schools and colleges in England with energy efficiency upgrades, helping to manage energy consumption and save on bills  
  • Extra £2 billion for schools next year to be split between mainstream schools with £400 million going to schools with children and young people with high needs, as part of the highest real terms spending on schools in history
  • Investment forms part of the government’s commitment to provide a good education and deliver opportunity for all – wherever they come from and whatever their background, particularly those who face challenges or who need extra support 

Schools and colleges in England will be allocated a share of £500 million to spend on energy efficiency upgrades, helping to save on bills during the winter months and manage energy consumption.

This will not only help them save money, but it will make them more energy efficient during the cold period and increase winter resilience for future years.

Estimations show that on average, a primary school will receive approximately £16,000, a secondary school will get £42,000 and a further education college group will benefit from £290,000.  Improvements could include installing better heating controls, insulation to reduce heat loss from pipes or switching to energy efficient lighting.

This builds on the Government’s Energy Relief Scheme which is supporting schools and colleges this winter, and will run until the spring.

On top of this, as announced in the Autumn Statement, the Government is investing an extra £2 billion funding for schools next year and the year after. This is the highest real terms investment in our schools in history.

This £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. Academies, maintained mainstream schools and special schools will all be guaranteed a funding boost, which will arrive from April next year.

This means 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 receive 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.”

New guidance has also been published today (Tuesday 6 December) to support schools to maximise energy efficiency, reduce carbon emissions and improve sustainability and resilience this winter and beyond. 

This funding comes on top of £1.8 billion of capital funding already committed this year for improving the condition of school buildings. The Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is also investing over £1.4 billion in public sector buildings, including schools over the next three financial years.

  • School leaders continue to be supported to invest in high quality teaching and tutoring, with over two million tutoring courses now started. The Government has recently announced an additional £24 million investment to boost children’s literacy skills to support children adversely impacted by the pandemic, alongside £60 million this year and next for the Maths Hub Programme.
  • This supports the Government’s ambition for 90 per cent of children to leave primary school with the expected standard in reading, writing and maths by 2030.
  • Wider measures to support energy efficiency in school and other public sector buildings include the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme. It supports the aim of reducing emissions from public sector buildings, including schools, by 75% by 2037, compared to a 2017 baseline, as set out in the 2021 Net Zero and Heat and Buildings strategies.
  • Phase 3 of the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will provide £1.425 billion of grant funding over the financial years 2022-2023 to 2024-2025. See here for further information.
  • Energy efficiency will be vital to reducing the UK’s emissions and meeting our 2050 net zero commitment. In the Autumn Statement, the government announced a new long-term commitment to drive improvements in energy efficiency with an ambition to reduce the UK’s final energy consumption from buildings and industry by 15% by 2030 against 2021 levels.
  • To support this, the Autumn Statement provided an additional £6 billion of new government funding from 2025 to 2028 and announced an Energy Efficiency Taskforce to accelerate the delivery of energy efficiency across the economy. Reducing demand by this level would equate to a £28bn saving from our national energy bill or £450 off the average bill next year in today’s prices.

Sector Response

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said:

“This investment is welcome but it will not pay energy bills in the immediate future. We are deeply concerned that the government intends to end the energy relief scheme that is currently in place to help schools and colleges meet rising costs at the end of March.

“Removing this support will expose them to massive increases in energy bills that are simply unaffordable, and this will necessitate cuts in educational provision. Funding for energy efficiency upgrades is a longer term undertaking and will not address the present crisis.”

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.”

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