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?

colditz Tue 21-May-13 22:14:35

I am on income support. ONE OF my kids is disabled, meaning I have to cough for extra rent so he can have a bedroom. My housing benefit covers 3/5ths of our rent.

It's not about whether or not I am being unreasonable. I cannot keep paying. I CAN'T. Every week since April, I have had to find money for the school. And when I'm late, my children come home saying "mrs x says we have to pay by Friday or we can't go!" What am I supposed to say to them? How can I get it into the kids heads that the school are wrong to keep saying this? How can I get it into the schools heads that they cannot have money until I have it and sometimes that means waiting for income support day!

The letters do not have the words 'voluntary contribution' on them anywhere. Last time the swimming bill came, I didn't pay it because he can't bloody swim. He walks up the training pool with a float in his hand, gets out the other side, and that's his swimming lesson concluded. He is ten, not four, and he's not the only one in his class who can't even maintain a floating position. They have 45 children in a swimming session, in a 15 metre training pool. They have them lined up at one end, they get in, walk from that end to the other end with a float in their hand (or if their parents can afford swimming lessons, they swim) then they get out and sit down with the TA at the other end of the pool. Swimming lesson concluded, and I wish I was joking. 25 minutes for the whole year group.

A few weeks ago I had a letter about a trip to a local free museum, informing me that "the cost of this trip will be £3". They walked there, they walked back, and the museum was free, what the hell did they need the money for?

schoolmadness Wed 22-May-13 05:55:14

At ds's school they have a 'reward' of a visit to a theme park at the end of the year for the children that have 'adhered to the school rules'. As my son who has ASD pointed out 'how can it be a reward if the parents have to pay for it!'

seeker Wed 22-May-13 06:00:49

It's a reward because they are having a treat on a school day. How do you suggest it's paid for?

SanityClause Wed 22-May-13 06:04:12

Speak to the head about the contributions.

Once they get to senior school, these voluntary contributions are much, much more (£100s, not £10s). But the school should have a fund to pay for those that can't afford to pay.

If you go direct to the head, it can be more discreet. It should be just between you and her/him.

Mosman Wed 22-May-13 06:12:30

Our school in WA asks for around $500 a year in "voluntary" contributions and if your child forgets to give you the letter or doesn't fancy the trip hides it they don't go, sit in the sports hall and reads which suits my three down to the ground.
It's a difficult task trying to find a balance, but somebody mentioned about budgets and deprived areas, where we used to live in the UK the poorest areas always seemed to have the best playground equipment - my children's eyes would pop out at the sight of them - maybe some if that money could have been allocated to educational experiences instead ?

Euphemia Wed 22-May-13 06:55:01

At schools of my recent experience, across three counties:

Swimming is for P6 only for about 15 weeks, paid for by the local authority.
There is one trip per year, subsidised by the Parent Council's fundraising.
The Headteacher's Treat at the end of the year for those children who have been well-behaved all year involves outdoor games and a snack, paid for from school funds.

DD has been to two lovely schools in pretty affluent areas, but the schools have hardly ever asked us for money. They have faced lots of cutbacks, same as everywhere else, but the result of this has been to do fewer add-on events as they appreciate parents' financial situation.

I think as parents you need to give the school the strong message that what they are doing is unacceptable. We're all already paying for our children's education through national and local taxation; they shouldn't be continually asking for more money!

And I say all this as a teacher!

Bunbaker Wed 22-May-13 07:02:17

"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."

Spot on I'm afraid. When DD did swimming we didn't have to pay for it, but she only did it for one term.

Now I know this will get me flamed, but no-on said that having large families is cheap. I often see posts from parents of large families complaining about costs of school trips, but honestly, what did you expect?

Ducks to avoid missiles.

Ragwort Wed 22-May-13 07:08:29

Bunbaker - agree <joins you in avoiding missiles>.

I understand people who genuinely can't afford to pay but there are plenty of people I know who just choose to whinge about these sorts of things whilst using their iphones, wearing designer clothing & eating out 2-3 times a week grin. Like my DB & DSIL.

Euphemia Wed 22-May-13 07:28:53

I don't think people mind paying for useful things the school does with their children. It's the trips with no educational benefit, and swimming lessons that don't result in any progress, that annoy people.

If the alternative is to say the DC can't participate, that's miserable for the DCs. It's not fair to put parents in that position.

fourlittleangels Wed 22-May-13 11:35:26

I agree there maybe some families that buy other luxuries and then say they can't afford school extras, but there will also be other families that really cannot afford to pay.

Op - reading your post made me so sad, it would break my heart if my children were coming to me saying the same things and I just didn't have the money to pay. I really think you need to change a meeting with the head at your children's school to explain and make sure it's kept confidential and that the children shouldn't be used as payment message go betweens!!

LEMisdisappointed Wed 22-May-13 11:48:23

*
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.*

I actually find this really insulting - We struggle financially but we certainly don't have fancy trainers,ipads or fancy anything!!!

We are constantly being asked for money by the school - this term:-

£45 for recorder lessons (which i thought was £45 for the year or i wouldnt have allowed it - these are in school time and the whole of DDs class take part!)
£10 School fund "voluntary"
£12 Swimming lessons
£7.50 for school trip to somewhere free!
£1 for non uniform day this week

Oh and htey had school photos taken last week...........so that'l be another christ knows how much

I just don't have this sort of money to spare sad

I'd like to know what the school fund is for, the PTA raise loads of money for the school and i do loads for the PTA, none of our money goes towards school trips - this makes me cross but i guess thats another thread.

I only have one child at the school - imagine if i had 2 or 3???

Bunbaker Wed 22-May-13 12:24:18

Some of the things I see that are being charged for now were free when DD was at primary school:
Swimming lessons
The entire class learning an instrument

Sadly, I think these have fallen victim to governmemt cut backs.

Asking for money for a free trip that doesn't involve transport is taking the piss. If they need a contribution they must expalian why.

If coach hire is involved they will need a contribution to cover the costs

ChewingOnLifesGristle Wed 22-May-13 12:32:57

I don't mind for school trips as they've usually been pretty good.

I do mind being constantly prodded for money to wear your own clothes, fancy bloody dress, bring this, do that, we're doing x,y,z but only if parents do it blah blah.

Dd1 at Secondary school we never hear a peep. They just get on with the job in hand, which they do pretty well. They don't keep on and on at parents.

ChewingOnLifesGristle Wed 22-May-13 12:34:37

I would happily pull my dc out of school swimming lessons. They can already swim very very well thanks to me taking them to lessons every Saturday morning.

OneLittleToddleTerror Wed 22-May-13 14:09:14

Is mosman's WA washington state or western australia? In NZ, we have to pay a lot of voluntary contribution growing up. DH's parents very poor and he constantly missed out on going to trips etc. If you don't pay, you don't go. He said he even had the wrong uniform in high school because they changed the uniform while he was there, and his parents can't afford the new style ones. (You can't get second hand of the new style). It's a state school ffs. He just learned that his parents couldn't afford everything. It's very tough, but what is a school supposed to do?

But what you described about the school swimming lessons are really a waste of money.

Mosman Wed 22-May-13 14:12:08

Western Australia

ShadeofViolet Wed 22-May-13 14:14:35

YANBU.

But I sound a note of caution, wait til they get to secondary. It makes primary look like a picnic.

sad

AmberSocks Wed 22-May-13 15:56:19

I dont know if this has already been said but i would rather the school just ask for donations per term or something,and then that money used to pay for dressing up days and trips.i would prefer that.

melika Wed 22-May-13 16:06:57

DS school suggested we buy £10 worth of raffle tickets, pay towards the 6th form building, enrichment fund every term. I don't do all, it's not compulsory. But for trips, pay in full, they are very good value, I have found.

I don't mind educational trips, but it's the constant dressing up and fundraising!

lainiekazan Wed 22-May-13 16:24:29

This whinging really is awful. Just shows when you are given something for free - in this case an education - you don't value it. Dh's friend has just returned from Malawi and he said the kids were queueing up with money their families could probably ill afford to get the chance to sit in a huge crowded classroom. In Italy nothing extra is free - you have to provide paper, pencils, art materials etc etc.

Complaining about the odd £1 for a charity day is churlish. If that's the only charitable contribution you are making in a year then you're getting away pretty lightly. School trips are darned expensive, even if they are to a free venue. Coach, insurance - all very costly for the school.

I have heard parents chuntering about paying for things, and, as others have said, it is invariably the ones who clearly have no problem splashing the cash elsewhere.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 16:40:23

Laine I think that is rubbish.

We pay a shed load of tax so it isn't free.

Now I don't mind paying for trips(within reason) or swimming however firmly believe they should be capped.

What I object to is the endless stream of overpriced crappy Xmas cards,photos, themed mufty days,fund raising,cakes to make and yes charity contributions x fecking 3!

Who is anybody to say how much people can afford.How dare you.You have no idea what people can and can't afford.Families are struggling at the moment.

I think most posters have said they don't mind paying for educational things, but charity should be kept out of schools, or perhaps the school should pick one and have the odd event. Parents should be able to donate to whom they like when they like and it isn't 'just a £1', but a pound for sending your child dressed up (which is something else to buy whether you buy or make an outfit), a pound 'voluntary donation' and then money for games/raffles and the school sometimes has two or three of these per month.

Well said blueskies.

lainiekazan Wed 22-May-13 16:42:35

Then don't buy the Xmas cards, school photos etc. I don't.

And don't bother saying "How dare you" - cos I just did.

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