A former Suffolk headteacher has warned schools are facing an "utterly demoralising, depressing and desperate situation" as they grapple with soaring energy costs due to inflation.

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, which represents leaders of schools and colleges, said reserve funding intended for capital projects would have to be "drained" while finances are restructured.

He said there was a range of options available to reduce costs, including non-replacement of staff and leadership posts, with responsibilities redistributed across the remaining teams, putting projects such as investing in student facilities on hold, and increasing class sizes.

Mr Barton said staff pay awards for which there was no extra Government funding were adding to the pressures, while budgets were already "very tight" due to a decade of real terms cuts to Government support.

He added: “It is, in fact, very difficult to address the funding pressures in the short-term because many of the actions that schools can take require planning and time to take effect.

“So, we are probably talking about a situation in which many drain what reserves they have – which are there for capital projects and contingencies – while they restructure their finances.

“It is a process which will inevitably result in cuts to educational provision in many cases.

“It is an utterly demoralising, depressing and desperate situation. The government has simply buried its head in the sand and is insisting that these costs are affordable – but at individual school level that is clearly not the case.”

Reports in national media suggested that some headteachers were looking to reduce the school week to three or four days.

However, Mr Barton said he had not heard from any school leaders who were planning to take this course of action.

A spokesperson for Suffolk County Council, the local education authority, said she also had not heard from any schools that were planning to reduce the week to three or four days.