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Schools (Heating And Lighting Costs)

Volume 975: debated on Tuesday 11 December 1979

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asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what would be the saving of costs in general, and on heat, light and fuel in particular, if schools were closed or shut during the hours of darkness during the winter period and the lost hours made up during the long summer holidays; and to what extent it is estimated this would also save lives of children travelling to and from school in the dark.

It is difficult to assess what fuel savings might accrue if schools were closed during the hours of winter darkness as only extra-curricular activities and evening use, on which information is not collected, normally fall within this category, but in broad terms every hour transferred from the winter heating period—the 980 hours of school occupancy between 1 September and 31 March—to the summer would represent a possible saving of about 0·1 per cent. of the relevant fuel costs—that is excluding fuel used for non-school purposes—offset again by frost protection, maintenance requirements, and the provision of other services, for example hot water, which would be incurred in the summer. My Department does not collect information in the detail required to make the cost estimates requested. On the question of road accidents, it would undoubtedly be safer for children to travel to and from school during the hours of daylight, but the Department of Transport has no figures on which to base a detailed estimate.