Schools 'consider switch to online learning' as petrol crisis leaves teachers stranded

·4-min read
Fuel pumps are out of use at a deserted Esso petrol station forecourt in Solihull, Birmingham. Picture date: Monday September 27, 2021.
Fuel pumps are out of use at a deserted Esso petrol station forecourt in Solihull, Birmingham, on Monday. (PA)

Some schools are considering a switch to online learning if the UK’s petrol crisis means teachers cannot get to classrooms, it has been reported.

One school in Surrey has written to parents to warn them that children may have to be taught remotely if teachers are left stranded by the shortage of fuel at filling stations.

It comes as independent fuel brands say 90% of their petrol station sites are completely dry following days of panic buying across the UK mainland.

The government has insisted that the country is not facing a fuel shortage, and that empty pumps are down to people panic buying.

Watch: Drivers queue at petrol stations amid fuel panic

SurreyLive reported that Lingfield College has said it may switch to online learning if teachers cannot make it into school.

In an email sent to parents last week, headmaster Richard Bool wrote: “The current petrol crisis could potentially disrupt school next week. 

“The ability of staff and pupils to get to school may be compromised and there may also be issues with our food deliveries.

“We sincerely hope that it won’t be the case, but if it becomes necessary to temporarily move to online learning, we will consider this as an option. 

“Clearly, we have no desire to go back online so soon after the challenges of the last couple of years but we cannot exclude the possibility that it may be necessary.”

Lingfield College in Surrey has warned parents it may switch to remote learning because of the fuel crisis. (Google)
Lingfield College in Surrey has warned parents it may switch to remote learning because of the fuel crisis. (Google)
Fuel pumps are out of use at a deserted Shell petrol station forecourt in Warwick. Picture date: Monday September 27, 2021.
Fuel pumps are out of use at a deserted Shell petrol station forecourt in Warwick on Monday. (PA)

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told The Times: “It will obviously be a concern for schools if teachers and support staff are unable to get petrol over the next few days and they may well be considering how to handle this.”

There were long queues for pumps across mainland Britain at the weekend as panic buying took hold amid an HGV delivery driver shortage that has adversely impacted supply at the country’s petrol stations.

The government has created 5,000 temporary three-month visas for foreign tanker drivers, while competition laws for the industry have been suspended to allow suppliers to reach stations that are low on fuel.

It was widely reported on Monday that prime minister Boris Johnson is considering bringing in army personnel to drive oil tankers.

However, environment secretary George Eustice said the government has “no plans at the moment” to use the army to drive petrol tankers amid continuing shortages at filling stations.

Eustice said there was not a shortage of fuel and called on motorists to stop “panic-buying” petrol and return to their normal pattern of purchasing.

Long waits at filling stations saw police called to a scuffle at a north London forecourt on Sunday as motorists continued their panic buying, which was sparked after concerns from BP were leaked to the media that the lorry driver shortage could impact its ability to keep up with fuel deliveries.

In a joint statement from the likes of Shell, ExxonMobile and Greenergy, the industry reiterated that the pressures on supply were being caused by “temporary spikes in customer demand, not a national shortage of fuel”.

Modern education remotely. Cheerful young african american woman points to blackboard and explains rules of english online
Schools could move to remote learning if the fuel crisis continues, it has been reported. (Getty)

On Monday, Gordon Balmer, executive director of the Petrol Retailers Association, said some of its independent brands are seeing as many as 90% of their sites running dry.

“We did a straw poll yesterday morning of a number of our members who have around 200 sites between them,” he told LBC.

“50% of those we spoke to said their sites were dry and some actually said 90% of their sites were dry."

The association says up to two-thirds of its membership of 5,500 independent outlets are out of fuel, with the rest about to run out soon.

There are more than 8,000 filling stations in the UK.

Watch: Fight breaks out at fuel pumps as petrol runs dry

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