Hartlepool schools ‘wasting’ £100k on phone bills

High Tunstall College of Science head teacher, Mark Tilling.

High Tunstall College of Science head teacher, Mark Tilling.

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SCHOOLS in Hartlepool are “wasting” £100,000 a year on telephone bills it has been claimed.

The 40 schools in Hartlepool could potentially save the massive cash sum if they signed up to better deals with telecommunications companies freeing up the money to spend on vital resources, according to new figures.

Eighty schools in the Stockton Borough Council area, which has schools in Billingham, there are possible savings of £200,000.

And in the Durham County Council area, where there are 289 schools including some in East Durham, a massive £600,000 could be put to better use.

This is an area total of £900,000.

The figures have been released by independent telecoms broker Equinox, who say that nationally 80 per cent of schools have not checked what they should be paying for telephone calls and lines in the last five years.

Mark Tilling, head teacher at High Tunstall School in Hartlepool said he believed the communications services his schools uses for telephone and computer use was “very efficient”.

He said: “As far as I’m aware the service we use for telephone and information technology means we are as efficient as we can be.

“It’s always something we would look at to make sure we get best value for money.”

A spokeswoman for the company said: “Phone bills for schools have crept up over the last few years.

“Not because they are making more calls or the rates have increased, it’s simply because of the patterns of calls being made.

“Schools are required to have contact numbers for every pupil.

“You go back 10 years and the majority of those numbers would have been landlines, with the occasional office number thrown in. Over time the mix of numbers has migrated from landlines to mobiles.

“We’ve all got a smartphone and many of us only really have a landline because we need it for our home internet connection.

“We make far more calls on our mobiles and we expect more people to call us on them, but the cost of the school calling a mobile number is higher than the cost of calling a landline. The smallest savings we’ve identified have been 35 per cent and the biggest being over 80 per cent.

“This latter figure equated to the cost of employing another teaching assistant for that school. The average saving is just over 50 per cent.”

She added: With school budgets under constant pressure, it makes absolute sense to ensure they are on the right tariffs. Even if the saving is only a few thousand a year, that is money they didn’t previously have and can be used to help educate our next generation.”