The school is constantly mithering me for money

(160 Posts)
colditz Tue 21-May-13 00:42:22

Money for shitty ineffective swimming lessons that, in 6 years, have not taught my son to even float. Money for mandatory trips a a factory, or a cricket field. Money for dressing up charity events. I am sick of them asking me for money and then pressuring my children when I can't pay!

Where do I stand legally with this? Do I have to keep paying for everything they are asking me to pay for?

NynaevesSister Tue 21-May-13 05:18:45

Technically no not if it is part of the curriculum. If a trip is, and really they should be or what is the point, then they can ask for a contribution but it can't be compulsory and they have to take your child. If too many parent do this they would probably have to cut back on the number of trips.

Dress up days etc I don't know. Our school asks for a voluntary donation for these. It isn't compulsory. Would be unfair as not all families can afford it.

CoffeePleaseSir Tue 21-May-13 05:31:22

I'm with you, I have one sitting on the table now for £17.50 it just never ends, constantly want money I feel like I am forever paying the school hmm

noramum Tue 21-May-13 07:17:17

Trips are good for them. DD has one tomorrow, it costs £2.
Swimming, I would complain about it. If they make these lessons compulsory than they need to learn I it.

We have tennis each second half of the Summer term. DD will never be a player but I know it teaches her to try and some basics in hitting a ball.

Dressing up for charity - we have a bucket in the playground and I know that not everybody puts something in or not the full suggested amount.

Do you have a PTA? It may be worth contacting them when requests get out of hand.

Yep. I've just paid £25 for compulsory swimming lessons. It's been three weeks now and all they've done is dangle their feet in the pool. Money on Friday for mufti day. There is something nearly every week.

IAmNaturallyThisOrange Tue 21-May-13 11:47:14

At DC's school at the beginning of a new school year you can pay an annual activities payment of £30 per child.
This doesn't include mufti/charity/music/swimming.
It does keep the paperwork down but we are in for a £90 bill as soon as school starts and it's really annoying when they miss a trip due to illness as you don't get a refund (DS2 off with ear infection today sad)

Sparklymommy Tue 21-May-13 11:49:28

This is pet peev of mine too. I have four children at the school and we struggle to afford everything. This year it's been dd1s residential £120 swimming, trips, it all adds up.

holidaysarenice Tue 21-May-13 11:50:27

A letter to the school, reminding them that these are voluntary payments, you can not/will not pay and expect no detrimental or dicrimantory behviour towards your child.

Full stop. Will shut the school up. They are ridiculous.

holidaysarenice Tue 21-May-13 11:51:43

But make sure you spell discriminatory right!!

Aghhhh!!

seeker Tue 21-May-13 11:52:06

So what's the school expected to do? Where does the money for he swimming they are statutorily obliged to offer come from?

And would you rather the were no trips, or fun days or experiences? No theatres? No museums?

If your son has had swimming lessons for 6 years and can't float, I would be having serious words about that. DS1 started swimming this term at school (he is pretty good) and the first lesson sounded dire, but it has improved since. It is a bit cheaper than the council run lessons (£30 for transport).

Periwinkle007 Tue 21-May-13 12:02:32

I think the OPs issue with the swimming is more that they haven't actually learned to swim.

I think they do have to ask for money for things because there is no other way of funding trips, activities, shows etc. My daughter's school hasn't been too bad, we are only in our first year there though and only 1 child at school so far.

We have had 2 trips, one was a local free one, a small request twice for 2 different visiting groups to do displays and shows and I think we have had 2 charity days, 1 disco and then PTA activities.

I don't think what WE have been asked for is unreasonable and it has always been clear where the money is going and that it is optional but that they do need a certain amount for trips for them to be viable. the charity things I haven't minded because they have only had a couple of them and again it has been clear that the charity contributions are voluntary.

Children shouldn't suffer if parents can't afford to pay/choose not to pay (as this is the case in some families) but equally I think with many of the trips we do have to share responsibility for them and I think they do the children good to get out of the classroom for a time.

for the OP I would say if swimming lessons are not proving to be effective then you should raise this, if they could make them more effective them perhaps they would only need to be offered for a year which is what our school do. then the money doesn't seem so bad as it is for a shorter time.

regarding charity events speak to the PTA. Is it events to raise PTA money or supporting charities, if it is for supporting charities then perhaps they could consider picking 1 or 2 charities at the start of the year by votes to then support rather than try to support loads of them.

crazeelaydee Tue 21-May-13 12:08:13

My Db mentioned this to me a while back, that my nieces school send a letter home for school trips saying that parents can make a 'voluntary' payment of £10 made for the trip but then on the returning slip at the bottom it just says "I have enclosed a payment of £10" so there is no option of it being 'voluntary' on the signature slip. TBH since then we have received numerous letters from Ds's school for ridiculously priced trips the most being £18 (which just didn't seem a realistic amount for the trip being offered IMO) with no suggestions of whether it's voluntary or not and I have just paid, although I do agree OP it can be APITA when it's constant and when cash it tight as it is £18 to some is a huge amount of money.

Periwinkle007 Tue 21-May-13 12:10:52

I suppose it also depends how many trips a year. if it is just 1 trip at £10 then that seems relatively reasonable. if they are on a trip every term and each time it is £10 plus then that adds up to a lot of money.

interesting point about the reply slip, I didn't look at ours closely so it might have been the same, perhaps if there was a tick box next to it...

where did they go that cost £18?

ProphetOfDoom Tue 21-May-13 12:19:45

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

seeker Tue 21-May-13 12:30:08

The contribution is voluntary, in that they can't exclude your child if you can't pay.

However, if not enough people pay to cover the cost of the trip, then nobody goes.

But swimming in on the curriculum so I suspect that have to do it whether anyone makes a 'voluntary contribution' or not.

Dahlen Tue 21-May-13 12:41:10

Either we all pay more taxes so that schools can be funded better and not rely on parental contributions, or we accept we have to cough up.

I don't think the schools help themselves, however. It's not as though these activities/trips come out of the blue. The same things tend to be organised year after year, and although the actual date/content/cost may vary slightly from one year to another, they are broadly similar. It would be hugely beneficial for parents to be given an information sheet at the beginning of each year detailing what can be expected in each term and how much it's likely to cost. This would at least stop the feeling of frustration you get when you pay out for something at short notice, just start getting yourself on an even keel, and then end up getting another 'request' fo something with next to no notice.

Elibean Tue 21-May-13 12:47:50

We have a very mixed intake, so a PTA that subsidises trips/events works quite well - those who spend more on the fundraising stuff help subsidise those who struggle to afford the school event stuff. Which means all kids join in, no one is pressurized, and the whole community benefits.

We also have a local charity subsidising main school trips so prices are kept low.

fourlittleangels Tue 21-May-13 13:06:39

We are asked for voluntary donations but it does state on the letter that he they have insufficient sometimes then the trip will not be able to go ahead.

Atm I am still glad they do ask as I would rather my children be doing the things they are currently doing to extend their learning, much better than stuck in a classroom or a school. I've felt the donations requested have been reasonable having said that only two of my four children are at school so far and we do seem to be constantly paying out and I do think if you cannot afford to pay if must be very frustrating and awkward but prob a good idea to have a chat to the school to explain your situation.

I fear it may get worse with funding cuts either that or our children will miss out on the learning extensions which I personally think are invaluable.

Regards swimming I can see your frustration I have often felt by the time they get all the children ready they prob don't do much swimming so we have ended up paying for the school swimming (although the payment in actually to cover transport not swimming) and our children's private swimming on top. So I would rather the didn't swim with school but if I choose to opt out, 1 - my children would be upset not to go and 2 - others may also miss out due to go sufficient funding for the coach (tiny school every penny counts)

I can imagine the pressure must feel immense though if you really can't afford it sad I know growing up myself my parents couldn't and in the end had to opt out of contributing.

Tiggles Tue 21-May-13 13:27:09

I don't really mind coughing up for swimming or trips, although at the moment it is a struggle. I have had letters home over the last week asking for nearly £40 so the boys can go on 2 trips each before the end of term. (On the plus side, in year 6 DS1 can now finally swim!)
But the continual dressing up days that they then have to pay to go to is a tad ridiculous. Each child was asked to raise £10 to come to school in red on comic relief day. That's £30 then... for that week, but there was a different dressing up day the week before etc etc.

LoveSewingBee Tue 21-May-13 13:51:54

I suppose it depends on the school. LA schools are financially struggling, but academies have more access to funds. So if your kids are at an academy then YANBU but if they are at an LA funded primary school then YABU.

Periwinkle007 Tue 21-May-13 14:20:45

£10 for wearing red for comic relief shock
we were suggested a contribution of £1.

MammaMedusa Tue 21-May-13 20:56:06

Our school makes it clear it is voluntary. It also makes it easy to pay extra. I know many people who always round up by a £1 or two to make it easier for others.

primarymonkeyhanger Tue 21-May-13 21:49:09

Trips are so expensive because coaches are so pricey. A 5quid trip to the aquarium became 14 pounds due travel costs but for the kids I teach it was probably a once in a lifetime visit. I actually had parents asking if they could pay to come too, that experience was invaluable to the childrens learning.

We try really hard to keep costs down but I find it difficult when parents spend a fortune on fancy trainers and ipads but complain about an experience that will enrich their childs education.

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