The cost of living crisis could see school children in Powys being taught online from home for a day a week.

The possibility of more lessons from home has emerged following questions by Cllr Beverley Baynham posed to the cabinet member responsible for education.

The big problem facing schools is the increasing cost of heating classrooms.

Cllr Baynham said: “In the current economic crisis school budgets are being put under increasing pressure.

“At a recent briefing for headteacher’s and chairs of governors suggestions were put forward from officers of how to achieve financial savings.

“These suggestions included, children wearing coats, not filling vacant positions, finding volunteers to work in schools, consider a four-day week with the fifth day being taught virtually at home.”

Cllr Baynham asked Cllr Pete Roberts the cabinet member for education to confirm if children being taught online one day a week is a serious suggestion.

Cllr Roberts said: “As you will be aware there are significant budget pressures on all of us and we are needing to be considering every option regarding potential savings.

“We did suggest the possibility of four-day week; with a fifth day being taught virtually as well as blended weeks of learning as extreme cases for consideration.”

But Cllr Roberts stressed that there no “clear directive” given to schools to do this.

Cllr Roberts said that a “financial toolkit” is being prepared and shared with schools to help headteachers and school governors discuss how to tackle the finanicial crisis.

Cllr Roberts added that the council is helpings schools by holding finance surgeries and going through budgets “in detail” looking at spending patterns and “suggesting potential solutions.”

Cllr Roberts said: “Ultimately it is the decision and responsibility of the headteacher and their chair of governors regarding the school budget and one size does not fit all.”

Cllr Roberts added that schools would need to produce plans explaining how they will continue with children’s education and that they will need to think about: “any and every eventuality.”

Cllr Roberts said that online learning option could: “reduce the utilities cost for the schools and lead to a considerable saving.”

Just like in Covid-19 lockdowns hubs would need be open to look after some pupils.

Cllr Roberts added: “For the past two winters in some instances, a few children have had to wear their coats in their classrooms due to windows being open as part of the covid guidance and not because the school could not afford to pay the heating bill.

“With covid increasing, this situation is likely to happen again this winter.”

Cllr Roberts stressed that volunteers would not be teaching children.

Cllr Roberts said: “Not at any point would we advocate volunteers replacing teachers to teach our children.

“The proposal not to fill vacant posts is only for consideration if the work connected to that post can be covered by other staff in the short term.”