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?

TenthMuse Thu 23-May-13 13:03:33

Oh, and just to add that many schools have recently invested in 'topic-based' schemes of work, which are intended to make learning more creative and cross-curricular. The plans that accompany these often call for a 'dress-up day' or 'topic day' every month or so, in order to bring what the children have learnt to life. If the schools follow these plans slavishly (which thankfully mine didn't), they do involve extra costs for all the additional resources required - either the teacher meets these themselves (I think many parents would be amazed at the amount of their own money teachers spend on their classes - mine ran into several hundreds per year while I was a class teacher and many others I know spent considerably more) or the school asks for a contribution from parents.

idiuntno57 Thu 23-May-13 13:51:35

I have x4 DS's at the same school and it is expensive. No one ever said kids were cheap. DH and I will go without stuff to do things for them but that's what its about isn't it.

However I think the school do it really well - they charge £25/year /child for all school trips (except residential ones). So it's a struggle to find a one off payment of £100 but a) no faffing around with envelopes of change x4 all the time and b) they have the money up front and can plan for it. I am pretty sure that if you said you couldn't pay they would deal with this and keep some aside for this purpose.

The kids go on lots of trips and love them. They really seem to benefit from them on every level. I would hate for this to stop.

However I could completely do without the demands for cakes, costumes, bonnets etc. x4 this is a BIG pain.

MNBlackpoolandFylde Thu 23-May-13 13:59:25

I feel your pain, I really value the trips dc go on but I had five letters in four days for one child.

A trip to a museum
A trip further to Wales
Money for coach to an emergency services workshop
Money for coach to a whole class choir performance
Deposit for residential
A dance workshop

The total was well over a hundred pounds with a weeks notice. I know they do not HAVE to do it but you get fed up of your child being the one to miss out.

Its not a case of not wanting to, I know a LOT of families at dc school were they would have to do without essentials in order to make sure their child did not miss out.

VenusUprising Thu 23-May-13 14:21:00

We have school fees, AND we have to pay for everything as well.... All supposedly voluntary contributions but everyone has to pay, or the child can't go.

Any money made by the parents assoc goes to an approved charity, not the school.

It's a PITA

TenthMuse Thu 23-May-13 15:01:44

OP looks like you're not alone - in today's news

amazingmumof6 Thu 23-May-13 15:47:43

tenth thanks for article, browsed through it.

---sidebar: quick question, I wonder if they teach kids to lie on their back and keep head above water.
for smaller children that is a far more vital skill to know & master and many swimmers benefit from this "trick" if in danger - especially if injured or tired. just wondering.----

shufflehopstep Thu 23-May-13 16:54:49

This isn't a new thing. I remember, in the early 90s, not going on a school trip as my parents couldn't afford it. I wasn't the only one as this particular trip was quite a pricey activities day doing abseiling and water sports, and my head of year made pointed remarks about the fact that a few people not going had meant there weren't enough people to do some of the activities so we had effectively "ruined" it for other children. On another occasion, my parents had only paid £5 towards a trip and again comments were made by this particular teacher. My dad was unemployed at the time and my sister and I missed out on a lot of things as a result. The last thing we needed was this from grown adults!

I appreciate that children do benefit from different ways of doing things, but surely you can be creative in lessons without resorting to a field trip.

morethanpotatoprints Thu 23-May-13 23:03:46

This was always a problem for me.
We could afford the costs but my friend is a sp and disabled, living on benefit and DLA, both her and her dd feel really bad when they can't afford it.
It isn't fair to expect people to find the money, when you know they can't.
We have left the school now so have no say, but it just seems so wrong.
She knows school need to make charges, but they make the dc feel bad when parents can't afford.
Ok, what about an extra donation fund. Where people who can afford put in an extra £1 for trips. I'm not rich by any means but would have donated for this. Or more of PTA funds to cover it.

seeker Fri 24-May-13 09:20:03

As I keep saying, it's the way some schools implement the charges, rather than the actual charge that's the problem. Any teacher that humiliates, or otherwise draws attention to a child that can't pay should be called on it. But there does need to be parental contribution to things- or they just can't happen- there's no spare money in school budgets for extras!

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 24-May-13 09:50:07

But isnt the problem also that as parents we arent communicated with about this?

As a parent I dont know what I should be budgeting for. As a member of the community I am not able to make suggestions about places which might be worth visiting or people who might be worth having at the school. Many people work for companies who will help local schools if asked but if we dont know what is going on we cant ask our employers.

When I was a governor at my DCs primary school I suggested to the head that if the school planned more and communicated these plans with parents then we would be able to help more. The head did not want to get involved. He wanted the school to be free to do things when the mood struck them.

Our job as parents was simply to pay up and shut up.

JenaiMorris Fri 24-May-13 10:54:33

I absolutely agree that it's the administration of these trips rather than the fact that schools run them that's the issue here.

There's a document posted on ds's school's parent portal listing all the trips for the year, so from September you have a good idea of the kind of money you're likely to be asked for.

Most of the trips seem to happen in terms 5 and 6 so that gives lots of notice. Additionally, they're often trips that run every year so we all know that there's a £150 trip to Ypres in Y9, or back in primary we knew years ahead that there's always a big residential in Y6.

Having said that of course if you can't afford to put £15 p/m aside per child, then all the planning in the world isn't going to help. I'm not sure what the answer is there.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 24-May-13 11:03:13

I also think they need to think about ways of contributing to charity other than financially.

I rem helping at nursing homes in Y6, collecting milk bottle tops etc.Surely charity shouldn't always be fun events but actually thinking of others too.Such activities could be part of RE,lord knows they seem to spend enough time praying and worshiping at my dc's school.

Crap money making schemes with crap products also need to be limited.

Trips and swimming(within reason)I don't have so much of problem with although the term I had to cough up for 3 x camp residential near enough in one go still smarts.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Fri 24-May-13 11:26:48

Take today.

Yet another non school uniform day. I presume it's for charity,haven't actually been told.I asked the dc what it was for- blank.

If it is.What is it teaching them? As far as I can see it all it says is charity= mum dipping in her purse again so I get to wear my own clothes.Utterly pointless.

JenaiMorris Fri 24-May-13 11:33:19

So far I've found secondary to be less of a pita with these things than primary. There are some big expensive trips but only a tiny minority go on them (40 out of 1,500 pupils go skiing each year).

I think we've had to shell out £75 in total this year, which is a fair whack but the bulk of that is for one trip that a lot have chosen not to go on anyway (about 50%). And there is lots and lots of notice.

With primary there seemed to be a constant drip drip of requests for £5 here, £5 there.

xylem8 Fri 24-May-13 12:51:29

the charity things annoy oe most. Charitable giving is about personal conscience and generosity .what is ordering kids to bring in £3 for a non uniform day for lifeboats teaching kids

ChewingOnLifesGristle Fri 24-May-13 13:04:36

It's all to do with peer pressure and children being a captive audience. Primary can and do take massive advantage of that and I think it's terribly wrong.

I said no to coughing up eye watering over-inflated fee for (unheard ofconfused) 'visiting author' selling books. But my word aren't you made to feel like a rubbish mum for it?sad

And it's all very well them dreaming up theme days and assuring us that we don't have to buy anything for it, but I invariably do have to buy things and spend ages trying to sort it out.

Even if it comes from charity shops it all massively adds up esp if you have two or three dc to kit out. I don't see why it has to be fancy dress at every turn. They should be able to teach creatively and imaginatively without it all the time.

JenaiMorris Fri 24-May-13 13:06:18

£3 for mufti!

It should be £1, tops.

Bunbaker Fri 24-May-13 13:25:31

At DD's school I have had to shell out £2 this academic year. DD won't go on any trips and they have had only two non uniform days - one for Children in Need and one for Comic Relief. And that is it.

They very rarely have non uniform days at DD's school as the head teacher doesn't care for them, plus it makes them more special when they do have them.

kiddiwinkles Fri 24-May-13 14:00:19

My Foster child gets asked 2-3 times a week for money for cakes/toys being sold in school time,( we therefore do not get a choice in what they purchase!) we get moaned at by the teachers if we do not provide money for this, ( this is in addition to general costs for school lunch) Most of the time I do not need the extra toys, food/drinks provided for her.

slimyak Fri 24-May-13 14:06:22

We've just moved house and changed schools. Old school used to heavily subsidise trips etc but they requested a payment, new school tells you the full cost of the trip and asks for a contribution towards this. I would say the new school has a slightly more affluent catchment so are banking on parents paying the full amount and therefore probably get more % contribution overall. All cash/payments are dealt with by school office so not even your kids need to know if you've paid the full wack or just sent in the signed consent form.
In both cases none uniform days are a voluntary contribution - suggested £1

From the rest of the thread I think we're getting a good deal. So far we haven't had any big costly trips or swimming lessons. I'm sure this will change as we progress from First to Middle School. I'll just give High school a signed cheque book!

girliefriend Fri 24-May-13 17:29:51

I am really shock at how much money some of youi are having to pay to schools.

My dds school is in quite a mixed area, with quite high levels of deprivation so I think costs are kept to an absolute minimum.

Swimming lessons costs £2 a lesson which is only for 1 term a year, discos etc normally £2, school trip voluntary donation, mufti day 50p!!!

BusStopWanker Fri 24-May-13 17:36:26

But swimming is part of the curriculam isn't it? Therefore they should already have funding for it? DD1 started to swim with the school in year 3, they go for about 4 weeks a term. We've never been asked to fund it.

tapdancingmum Fri 24-May-13 21:07:37

When my DD1 did swimming it was free but by the time my DD2 came to do it they asked for £30 for the coach. I was a bit hmm but paid it as all her friends were going. At the end of the half term they 'chose' the ones who hadn't done as well as expected and asked for another £30 for her to do another 6 weeks. I did query this as she was up to grade 5 in her private swimming lessons at the time grin. I was told it was a 'mistake' and she didn't need to go - I wonder how many other children were 'mistakes' but their parents coughed up for it.

My DD2 was also asked for £2.50 to take part in a dance thing but didn't want to so I didn't send the money in. She was told that she wasn't allowed to miss it and had to take part. They are still waiting for the money as I refused to pay.

Secondary school doesn't seem too bad but just had an email informing us of a 2 day French/Art trip for £285.00 shock. Well, they won't be going on that then..... But as previous people have said when you get to secondary nobody realises that you haven't gone as out of a year of 180 only about 30 can go anyway.

primarymonkeyhanger Fri 24-May-13 21:28:34

Wow I don't know where you guys are sending you kids but at my inner city primary the kids get 30mins of swimming free every week for 2 years! Trips are a max of £10 (usually about £6) and we generally do 2 a year.£1 for the very rare disco or mufti. We have a 20p tuck shop once a week which classes take it in turns to run to contribute to own class trips etc. Oh and usually a summer fair but all things to buy cheap and cheerful. I have never worked at a school where parents were expected to donate for craft lessons or buy their kids framed art/xmas cards. Probably because the parents wouldn't buy them!

WorrySighWorrySigh Fri 24-May-13 21:44:09

I dont think that these trips and other requests for money are the preserve of schools in leafy suburbs. My DCs' primary school with close to 30% FSM entitlement was just the same.

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