A Bristol school grappling with soaring fuel costs has told pupils to wear warm clothes in a bid to save energy.
Summerhill Infants School in St George said it would turn off lights when they were not in use, limit heating during the day and turn down the thermostat for hot water.
It said it was facing a ‘dilemma’ keeping pupils and staff warm over the winter while keeping windows open to ensure ventilation to stop the spread of Covid-19.
And it said it was concerned over the rising cost of gas and electricity.
In a statement provided to BristolWorld, the school said: “Bristol City Council have worked hard to renegotiate supply costs for schools and should be commended for their actions.
“They have supported schools and given school leaders rough figures in terms of the probable annual costs of energy this academic year which, even with our measures already in place, is a concern for the school due to the unprecedented national energy crisis and the global pandemic.”
The request for children to wrap up also comes as the school follows health advice to ventilate all spaces of the school with fresh air.
The statement continued: “Our message to parents and carers is also a timely annual reminder as the weather changes to ensure their children come to school appropriately dressed in the winter.
“Staff have been very supportive of our actions.”
However, not every parent was in support of the idea.
Kadie Whyte said: “That’s terrible to even ask or consider turning down the heating where young kids who need heat to help them learn. I think that’s really bad.
“How are the kids going to continue their education being freezing cold? I don’t think it’s realistic to be honest. I think it’s terrible.”
A mother who wanted to remain anonymous said: “I don’t think it’s suitable for young children to be in an unheated environment.
“It can have impacts on their health. If it does get cold and if the windows have to stay open for ventilation, that’s going to lead to quite a cold classroom I would imagine.
“It’s not really fair on the children.”
But Jignasha Uday said: “It’s good. The heating is suitable for the children. I’m happy. Every time [the information to wrap up warm] comes in a leaflet. Everything is good there.”
National Education Union representative Robin Head said the mater uncovered the ‘sad, hard truth’ that ‘schools aren’t funded properly enough’.
"Teachers have not had a pay rise this year. Schools are really struggling budge- wise,” Mr Head added.
Energy experts say the average bill is likely to rise by 12 per cent in the coming months.
As schools are urged to keep windows open for ventilation due to the ongoing pandemic, they face even greater costs.
A spokesperson for Bristol City Council said: “UK energy prices have risen sharply which in turn is pushing up bills across the city.
“Homes, businesses, schools are all feeling this additional financial challenge and it’s forcing many to make difficult choices about how they meet these extra costs.
“To support schools, our energy services are working on trying to extend current energy contracts to limit the impact of this surge in prices for those settings that are part of our contract scheme.
“While these additional costs are unavoidable and beyond our control, we will continue to work closely with school leaders to help them budget and manage their finances.
“We’re in close contact with schools about budget pressures, mostly as a result of the pandemic, to identify these new challenges and feed this information back to the Department of Education.”