Headteacher backs campaign to let all schools have solar panels

Lorena Vila

29 May 2015

Headteacher Kate Curtis backs our campaign for the Government to let schools borrow money for solar panels. 

Kate is the headteacher of Wheatley Park School in Holton, Oxford, a mixed secondary academy with 1,006 pupils. The school wouldn't have been able to afford the high upfront cost of solar panels alone.

"When you're running a school budget you'd have to make a decision to take money away from young people's education in that year.

"Although you're investing for a long-term future, that's still quite a drastic step to take in relation to the children who are currently in the school"

Headteacher and pupils at Wheatley Park School
Kate with pupils, Charlotte Noble, Jake Burton, Frederick Blundell and Joe Pinkney.

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Luckily a social enterprise called Low Carbon Hub has been helping schools to make the switch to solar. The Low Carbon Hub installs panels at no upfront cost to schools.

Not every school in the UK can benefit from schemes like this. This is why our Run on Sun campaign is trying to change legislation so every school that wants to can take up solar.

195 solar panels were installed at Kate's school in August 2014, which could save them more than £27,000 off its energy bills over the next 20 years. 

Are you from Oxford? Find out if your school could benefit from The Low Carbon Hub Scheme

As soon as we realised there was an opportunity, we were keen to take it. We were aware of other schools that had had similar projects and had benefited so we wanted to join the club, so to speak.

"It is a share offer so we haven’t had to invest in the capital, which is what we were looking at previously, which made it more or less impossible for us to do anything without some kind of significant grant funding or some more creative model around supporting the funding."

We asked whether the panels were saving the school money:

"Yes, really significantly. I mean we don't yet know exactly how much it will save but our energy bills are enormous, absolutely enormous...

"It's great to be saving some money in a time of shrinking budgets. It means we will have more available for teaching resources, for maintaining the pupil-teacher ratio and for more creative projects.

"The Low Carbon Hub scheme is a really fantastic deal for schools. (You are) part of a community which has the capacity to generate electricity, which is good, I think, for their education and their awareness."

Having more funds available in the school for resources... will make more difference to their education.

Schools running on solar power can help fight climate change and protect the planet for generations of school children to come.

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solar panels Wheatley Park school
Solar panels at Wheatley Park School
Kate Curtis Headteacher, Wheatley Park School