SCHOOLS may have to consider opening just four days a week in the next academic year due to soaring costs, a Southend headteacher has warned.

School bosses are holding crisis talks over the summer holiday in a bid to work out how to stay afloat in the face of an impending financial crisis.

Dr Robin Bevan, headteacher of Southend High School for Boys, told the Daily Telegraph: “Costs are simply rising far more swiftly than budgets and the prospect of only 0.5 per cent increase in income for 2023/24 makes the future look exceptionally bleak.

“I can see that for some schools there may not be any practical alternative.

“School budgets are typically 80:20 between salaries and fixed costs (including utilities, resources, etc).

“If the fixed costs escalate, and income barely rises, then the wage bill has to go down to balance the books.”

Dr Bevan, a former president of the National Education union, added:“In schools, already operating on minimal staffing levels, reducing employment costs means cutting hours.

“If a four day week is not already being planned, it will certainly be being considered ... and in the absence of long overdue above-inflation investment in school funding, it’ll become a realistic prospect sooner rather than later.”

Earlier this year, a petition to make Friday a part of the school weekend attracted nearly 150,000 signatures.

But the Department for Education said schools must provide a full-length week within current budgets.

A spokesman said: “We recognise that schools, much like the wider economy, are facing increased costs, including on energy and staff pay.

“To support schools, budgets will rise by £7 billion by 2024-25 – including £4 billion in the current financial year alone –compared with 2021-22, a seven per cent cash terms per pupil increase.

“A recent IFS report noted that this will mean that forecast increased costs are broadly affordable for schools in 2022-23.

“Our Schools White Paper set out our expectation that the school week should last a minimum of 32.5 hours, the current average for all mainstream state-funded schools.

“Thousands of schools already deliver this length of week within existing budgets and we expect current funding plans to account for this.”