The Daily Telegraph
College moves to four-day week to save on energy costs
A COLLEGE has become the first to introduce a four-day week because of rising energy costs.
South Essex College, which has campuses in Basildon, Southend and Thurrock, has announced plans to close classrooms on Fridays as it seeks to make savings amid cost rises.
The college said that students will continue to receive the same number of hours of face-to-face learning, with lessons taking place between Monday and Thursday. Pupils will be encouraged to use Fridays working from home for “independent study”, while teachers will be able to use the day to catch up on marking and administration , it said.
A spokesman for the college said: “It is true that cost pressures on utilities and other elements of running the college have meant we have looked at ways to make savings that do not impact on students or staff.”
He said that closing classrooms on Fridays would give teachers “dedicated time to complete marking and admin, making the most of the benefits we have learnt from the past couple of years.” He added: “This will also allow students to undertake independent study as they prepare for higher education or work.
“It’s important to remember college differs from school in that independent study time has always been incorporated into all timetables with supervised learning scheduled for three or four days a week.”
The college, which has more than 12,000 pupils across its campuses, is facing criticism from parents.
“I think it is disgusting that parents are expected to pay more on their electric bill as the students will be using electric at home now on Fridays,” one parent told the Echo, a daily newspaper in south Essex. “I could not believe it when my son came home and told me the news.”
South Essex College offers A-levels and BTEC vocational qualifications. It employs about 1,000 staff.
The move to a four-day week at the college comes after The Daily Telegraph revealed last month that some school leaders around the country were considering shorter school weeks to pay for teacher salary rises and higher energy costs. Schools and colleges are waiting to find out details of support they will receive for energy bills through a sixmonth government support scheme.
Further details are expected to be disclosed at the end of next week.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “We hope this gives schools and colleges the information they desperately need about how the energy price guarantee will work.
“At the moment, they are in limbo as they do not have enough information for their financial planning.”