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.

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.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 16:46:33

Re Xmas cards etc it's emotional blackmail,they make them in school and no parent wants to be the meany with a kid going home without.Last year they came so late they were useless,school couldn't give a stuff as they still got their cash.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 16:47:27

Re dressing up you're forced to pay it as who wants their kid standing out?

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 16:49:24

Oh and "how dare you" see I just did too.hmm

Nobody has the right to say what other families can/can't afford.

seeker Wed 22-May-13 17:18:58

"Charity should be kept out of schools"

Why?

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 17:41:43

I think it's good to support a charity in school but I think they need to limit the events or go 50/50 on school fund raising.

Parents don't have bottomless pits of spare cash these days.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 17:42:24

And enough already with themed mufty days.

seeker Wed 22-May-13 17:44:45

So how much are you talking about? A mufti day a term? £6 a term?

seeker Wed 22-May-13 17:45:18

Sorry, £6 a year?

sunshine401 Wed 22-May-13 17:47:06

My school for my children both high school and primary are not bad when it comes to money.
Primary school swimming lessons are free.
Charity events are normally no school uniform and optional contribution or a bring in for fate/raffle again it is always optional.
I personal always give some money the amount will often differ depending on personal circumstances of the time but I know a few parents who don't donate and their children can still go in non school uniform.
Trips differ but they are never in the hundreds for primary school. Local ones were always free. Non-local would cost anything up to about £75.
My DD in high school has been on a couple of trips (France and London) neither of them to bad and the option of installments was available.
I have never been asked for money for anything else to do with school.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 17:52:19

Not got a problem with mufty day but I do with themed as it can cost money on top of 2 or 3x trips each,camp,books from visiting author,Xmas cards,class photos,family photos,cake sales,buying the cakes you make,swimming,Xmas fair,summer fair,special school meal.......

I draw the line at Scholastic book sales,my dc know I'll just bark I can get them cheaper on Amazon.grin

Some of the above I don't have a problem with but on mass I've used up an entire cheque book.shock Don't want to add it up.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 17:52:59

meals

milkybarsrus Wed 22-May-13 17:54:51

I put £5 in the envelope for a 'voluntary' contribution for a recent school trip which was £10, whilst dh was out of work (thankfully only out of work a month), but then was asked for the other £5 by the teacher! I was annoyed and embarrased as I literally couldn't afford it and thought that 'contributing' £5 was better than nothing. I was made to feel guilty as I had it explained to me that if everyone did what I did then the trip wouldn't go ahead. I couldn't justify the extra money at the time, but when dh was back at work a month later I gave the £5. I feel sorry for other parents who hit hard times and are made to feel as I did.

seeker Wed 22-May-13 17:58:35

Did you put a note explaining in the envelope, or did you go and talking to anyone?

WorrySighWorrySigh Wed 22-May-13 18:01:45

Thankfully out of primary now but looking back at all the Easter bonnets, cake sales, residential trips etc etc etc. Do my DCs remember any of this? No. I dont think they are unique in this.

Do former pupils remember the day that a Viking came to school and had a sword fight with the deputy head? Yes they do (because they stop DH in the street to tell him about it!).

What did it cost? Nothing

The lack of planning and notice to parents makes it very hard for us to help. Many parents will know people who can come into the school for nothing or next door to it.

Many parents will know of places which would welcome school trips. I know of some very good Roman Baths under the A1M if anyone is interested.

twilight3 Wed 22-May-13 18:09:16

So, are schools obliged to offer swimming lessons? In that case, shouldn't the school budget pay for them? Next year I'm going to have to pay £40 pounds per child for 10 half-hour lessons, no transport as they walk to the pool.
What happens if I don't, given that this is not a "voluntary contribution" for a trip but an essential part of the curriculum? Is it not like asking parents to pay for, let's say, books? PE equipment? Am I misunderstanding something?

Smudging Wed 22-May-13 18:16:37

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 18:23:09

Our swimming lessons are good value and love the trips and camps although not the cost of it.

Think World Book Day and Red Nose Day are worth doing however all the other add ons,not so sure.

Think like everybody they should do a per head budget and stick to it.

HappyMummyOfOne Wed 22-May-13 18:29:09

Im always surprised at the amount of people moaning about costs of trips etc at school. Do people really think children dont cost anything?

Teachers cant win, if they didnt run trips or anything fun then parents would moan. Given the exta work involved in running trips its not like they do it to just get out of lessons.

Education is free and open to all, something we are very lucky to have. Yes its funded by taxed but given there are very few net contributors to the system its not too much to ask for a few top ups now and again to enhance things for the children.

glam71 Wed 22-May-13 18:30:12

Fortunately swimming is free but dc only went once as cancelled due to rain grr.
This year 1 dc had 2 trips for £25 and £18 plus another £5 for some people to come in and teach. Also another £25 for a writer's day. Other dc £18 for a trip.
So much for a free education.

glam71 Wed 22-May-13 18:31:53

o and if you don't send in the voluntary contribution they send you reminders or ring you up to ask for it.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 18:34:02

Happy I take it from your name you have 1 child,if you x it by 2,3 or 4,on a lower income I suspect you wouldn't be so blasé.

Lets not forget an education happens outside of school too,parents need money for valuable things like cubs,books,art materials etc.

Parents don't have a bottomless pit of cash,they just don't.

Phoebe47 Wed 22-May-13 18:45:20

Colditz - Mrs. X is wrong. The school cannot stop any child going on a trip because they haven't paid. Obviously the school wants everyone to pay but they need to be realistic and accept that a percentage of parents will not have the means to do so. The children of these parents must still be allowed to go.

Rooble Wed 22-May-13 18:51:04

It's really difficult. We make a £15 annual "voluntary" contribution, though the letter that requests it makes clear that if there ends up being insufficient money in the pot then trips/visits etc will not be able to go ahead. Where there have been trips eg to a mosque that involve a bus fare, I believe that the families who've opted not to make the voluntary contribution have been given the opportunity to contribute the £1.40 it costs for a child to make a return bus journey.
However, every letter that goes out requesting money has a message in it about times being difficult and please go to the head for a confidential chat if you find it difficult to meet the costs. She's really good at juggling funds/making things possible etc. But I guess often the only way for her to find out people are finding it difficult to make ends meet is for them to TELL her, and that's easier said than done.

ChewingOnLifesGristle Wed 22-May-13 18:55:22

Agree with Blueskies. It def does all add up esp for larger familieshmm

The assumption we have endless cash, not to mention spare time to sort fancy dress out starts to grate.

DameSaggarmakersbottomknocker Wed 22-May-13 18:58:09

Colditz - they can't exclude your child from a curriculum related school trip if you can't pay. If it's a 'treat' trip then they can.

You can ask for a breakdown of the costs if you feel that you need to.

I would send what you can afford with a note saying as much.

I'm always a bit hmm about paying for swimming lessons at school - they are a curriculum requirement, the contribution is voluntary and your child cannot be excluded for not paying. Our school allocate budget to pay for compulsory swimming.

Nerfmother Wed 22-May-13 19:05:56

Educational trips fine. Day trip fine. Sponsored walk following recent sponsored something else not fine. Project to 'make an xyz' not fine - hobby craft make a killing on that stuff. Dress up day not fine - I cannot afford to cut up pillow cases to make an Egyptian toga etc . Charity dress up day - not fine, maybe I don't support the charity, maybe I have no spare money. I have 4 dcs whoever thought I should have realised this - I had NO IDEA this stuff was regular at school.

Phoebe47 Wed 22-May-13 19:17:21

glam71 - I would point out to them that they said it was a voluntary contribution and add that it is not voluntary if you are being harassed to pay it.

xylem8 Wed 22-May-13 19:21:32

I can afford to pay but usually don't because they are all to places i take my dc anyway.

HappyMummyOfOne Wed 22-May-13 19:51:10

Blieskies, yes just one but i know if i have more then costs increase. Its not rockef science and every parent is in control of the number of children they have. Choose to have a large family then accept the costs just like other choices in life.

amazingmumof6 Wed 22-May-13 20:04:22

Sparklymommy
not to have one over you, but my DS3's residential in Oct is £180.
of course we paid, these trips are well worth the money actually, but we have 6 kids.

the asking for money is endless.

few years ago PTA chair stole over 2 grand, (summer fair money plus some other things) and that did it.

I'd had enough & now refuse to pay anything voluntary/ or by cash.
no bottles for tombola, no cakes for cake sale, no stupid "artwork",nada.
maybe mufti, but not always.

we help by donating our time instead.
job done, no guilt

twilight3 Wed 22-May-13 20:11:22

happymummy, that's exactly the point, when people decide on the number of children they would like to have, they count on free education, only to discover too late that this is not actually the case.

Plus sometimes children come unannounced, and sometimes they arrive in pairs or bunches of three :-)

ChewingOnLifesGristle Wed 22-May-13 20:12:50

Happy..hmm.. I went from one to three with unexpectadly having dt'sgrin.

I'm sure there are other reasons too why people end up with larger families than they anticipated. That aside, I still think that schools take it for granted that they can keep asking and pushing.

Going in to 'see the head to discuss difficulties paying' is all very well but a tad humiliating which is an awful position to put people insad

BerylStreep Wed 22-May-13 20:25:04

Has anyone mentioned the emotional blackmail associated with book fairs yet?

MamaBear17 Wed 22-May-13 20:27:10

I am a teacher and I agree with you. It is really hard because we are pressured to find off site educational experiences for our pupils (and they really are invaluable) but I feel guilty because of how expensive everything is. Especially for parents with more than one child.

seeker Wed 22-May-13 20:27:25

"Going in to 'see the head to discuss difficulties paying' is all very well but a tad humiliating which is an awful position to put people in"

Of course it is. But is that a good reason for nobody getting to go on a trip?

Blueskiesandbuttercups Wed 22-May-13 20:38:13

I was a teacher,9 years ago I left and strangely back then we didn't ask for half that schools do now or for so many £££££.

I can't believe the difference.

ihategeorgeosborne Wed 22-May-13 20:46:50

School swimming seems to be one of the things we don't have to pay for at the dcs school. I'm not sure why we don't, but it does seem to be 'free' for all year 4s, 5s and 6s. We do have to pay for everything else. We have stopped recorders now as two of them doing it adds up and dd1 wasn't keen anymore. The worst one I remember was a sale of art day, and I got the opportunity to purchase a picture that dd1 had drawn. Cost of picture plus frame was £8!!! I had to buy it as dd thought I didn't like it when I said we didn't really need to buy it. I've never forgotten that. As others have said, countless dress up days, cake sales, auction of promises (can't stand them). It does go on and on. The only time I ever didn't pay a voluntary contribution of £5 (because it was a real bloody cheek what they were asking for and why), I received a text message the night before telling me that I still hadn't paid! Went into school the next day and paid the fiver. Was pissed off though, as we were lead to believe that it was a no cost activity.

ChewingOnLifesGristle Wed 22-May-13 20:56:50

Well as has been pointed out some (many?) people are in serious hardship atm.

So er, possibly yes I think that is a good reason to rein things in regarding expected extras. Trips seem to be getting more expensive and ambitious from an earlier age, much more so than they used to be.

What's more they're presented as a fait accompli to children who trot home assuming they have to go and the school assumes they will indeed be going, because 'it's part of our topic work' or bonding together or whatever and then then the worry of it is laid firmly at the parents door. Who would want their dc to be left out given that much peer pressure to be there? I bet many people struggle quietly to pay rather than go cap in hand to explain themselves.

Nice though it was I can't really see the essential educational side of a week away at 11. But it's not just trips, on and on it goes with 1001 other asks and in the end, for some it become too much.

ihategeorgeosborne Wed 22-May-13 21:06:32

I agree chewing it does seem to be getting silly now. Dd1 went on a one night residential in year 3 and it was £100. Apparently there is a two night one in year 5 and it's £200. I'm dreading it to be honest, as that will be when dd2 has to do the one night residential as well. That's £300 to find, which I think is a lot of money on top of everything else. I dread looking in the book bags now! I have a feeling there will be a French exchange at some point in the near future too. I worry that posters on here say that secondary is worse hmm

WorrySighWorrySigh Wed 22-May-13 21:10:40

happymummy - parents are in charge of how many children they have? Dont be silly, contraception fails, 97% effective means 3% of the time getting 100% pregnant. What are parents supposed to do? Terminate or throttle at birth because they cant afford the school trips for more than one?

Even if parents are able to plan their families they cant plan their futures down to the nth degree. Things happen, jobs get lost, overtime gets cut. Life throws a curve ball.

There are far too many trips which fall into the 'experience' or 'treat' category. Children's lives are not blighted by schools not offering residential trips, theme park trips and the like.

"Children shouldn't suffer if parents can't afford to pay/choose not to pay..."

What are we teaching our children though? If I can't afford it, my kids can't go. End of Story. We can't all afford everything in life. We can't always make sure our children are never disappointed.

I went to school in NZ, and if we didn't pay, we didn't go. I remember in 7th form/year12, we had to go on a geography trip as part of the curriculum. My uptight mother REFUSED to let me go. My teacher delicately asked if it was a financial reason, but it wasn't, just that I would be out of her clutches for a week.

I got over it, and, let's see, 22 years later, it makes not one jot of difference that I didn't go on the trip.

I've just ignored letters from school for fundraising/book fairs etc... for my DS1 school. I'm not falling for it and opening my wallet everytime they ask. For some things, yes, but not all things.

gaelicsheep Wed 22-May-13 21:51:26

Charity things annoy me the most. £1 here, £2 there, it all adds up. And there is such pressure from your DC because they want to buy the red nose, or the cakes, or whatever, and you feel so mean if they can't. And yes paying for the "privilege" of dressing up just adds insult to injury. I don't mind paying for swimming lessons, educational trips and the like, but I can't stand emotional blackmail.

amazingmumof6 Wed 22-May-13 22:02:51

yy gaelica you've hit the nail on the head, it's the emotional blackmail that pisses me off the most.
good post

ChewingOnLifesGristle Wed 22-May-13 22:14:20

ihategeorgeosborne Everyone's experience regarding secondary will be different I guess, but if it's a small ray of hope, for us (so far at least, and we've got to yr10) I've not found it to be anywhere nearly as bad or relentless as primary (reliefgrin)

Yes, there are trips and they can be v £ and curiously sometimes nothing whatsoever to do with schoolwork confused making me wonder if there's a branch of Thomas Cook somewhere on the premises. But the place is sufficiently big enough for it not to be noticable who has or hasn't gone, no pressure is put on us about it and very often they are in school holiday time. So far so good anyway. Oh and no dressing up either, or asking for money every week for this that and the other. Blisswink

I wonder how they do it really because the primary school give every indication that in order to do the job they need our input at every level all the timehmm

seeker Wed 22-May-13 22:47:26

How do people think they extra curricular things that children enjoy doing- like trips, visitors to the school, plays and so on are paid for?

CloudsAndTrees Wed 22-May-13 22:47:44

It's sad to see this reaction to schools doing things that our children enjoy and benefit from.

I appreciate that for some families, it is a struggle to find the money, but I'd have thought that these families are in the minority, and their time of real hardship is unlikely to last throughout their child's entire education.

If we are going to have children, we should be able to pay for them to do things.

Asking parents to contribute to experiences for their child isn't really much to ask. No one ever had a baby and expected to be provided everything they need for free, so why do parents act surprised when they have to pay for stuff for their own children?

burberryqueen Wed 22-May-13 22:54:35

it is one thing asking for money for trips, quite another demanding £3 for a timetabled history lesson and then humiliate the kid in front of the class by telling him loudly that him not bringing in the money was not fair on the others. yes this really happened in year 4.

ihategeorgeosborne Wed 22-May-13 22:55:34

Thanks Chewing that's a relief smile Seeker and Clouds I'm happy to pay for trips and visitors to the school, school plays, performances, etc. What I do find really tedious is the constant cakes sales, mufti days, the odd £3 for this and that. It does seem to be relentless. We are ok money wise, but I do have to constantly monitor the bank account to check that certain cheques for school have cleared. I think the problem is that it comes on top of massive price hikes for everything else. I have to say, we are really not feeling well off at the moment. It must be awful for families with less.

FamiliesShareGerms Wed 22-May-13 22:55:54

Our school only charges for KS1 swimming, as it is compulsory for KS2 to attend swimming lessons.

The other requests are pretty relentless: £2 for cookery club, £1 for comic relief, £1 plus a book for world book day... It does annoy me, but I end up grumbling but paying, as I agree that the extra activities are good for them to do, and we are lucky to be able to afford it.

The only thing I "boycott" is the "voluntary" termly payment of £10 that has to be returned in an envelope with children's names on (so they know who has paid) and doesn't get spent on anything direct, it just goes into the general school costs (eg for soap...).

ihategeorgeosborne Wed 22-May-13 22:58:23

Agree burberry, there was an incident at our school where the dcs had to take money in for some art materials. A couple of the children hadn't taken it in and their names were read out from a list in front of the class and they were told they couldn't partake in the activity if their parent's didn't pay. I think that must have been really upsetting for the children in question.

seeker Wed 22-May-13 23:01:48

So complain about crap teachers screwing up- don't complain about schools trying to provide interesting and fun things for your children.

CloudsAndTrees Wed 22-May-13 23:06:34

I agree with it being wrong that they ask money for comic relief and the like. That's charity, and children shouldn't be peer pressured into donating to charity out of their parents pockets. I have been on a one woman protest against the comic relief/children in need fundraisers for the last few years, and my dc partake in wearing spots or whatever without paying the money. I have explained my objection to them, they agree, and they aren't pressured into giving money at school.

Cake sales and things like that are usually raise money for something specific for a class, or for the PTA. Those funds directly benefit out children, and I simply can't understand why any parent would begrudge that money. For what most of us pay in tax, we get a pretty good deal when it comes to education.

SanityClause Wed 22-May-13 23:12:06

We were asked to make a contribution for DT materials at DD1's school, so I sent in the cheque, but she forgot to hand it in.

No one contacted me about it, and she got to do DT, so no humiliation for anyone, and obviously, it was truly voluntary.

(I found it in her bag, later, and sent it back in with a note apologising. I could afford it, and felt embarrassed that others were subsidising me!)

burberryqueen Wed 22-May-13 23:13:52

really cos when my son didn't bring in fifty pee for DT he had to sit out of the lesson.

seeker Wed 22-May-13 23:25:43

As I said, complain about teachers screwing up. Not about schools needing money to do good stuff with the kids.

burberryqueen Wed 22-May-13 23:30:08

i was not complaining about that tho seeker.
besides if you keep running into the school with complaints about specific teachers, after a while they just hate you....

seeker Wed 22-May-13 23:34:50

Yes you were. You were complaining about a teacher who mishandled you child not having his 50p. So get the school to make sure the staff knows how to handle situations like that.

CocktailQueen Wed 22-May-13 23:36:23

Hmm, sounds like the school is trying to provide a good and balanced education and curriculum for the children.

OP, do you take your dc swimming at all or just leave it to the school?? For some children, swimming once a week is not enough to learn. YANBU if you do take your ds swimming but YABU if you know that he cannot float after 6 years and have not tried to address this yourself!!! Also, school swimming cost may be mainly for the bus to get them there and back from the pool, not actually swimming, Swimming is part of the curriculum so school are obliged to take kids.

Also, you do not have to put £££ into charity buckets etc, a few pence will do.

Are you on your PTA? Do you help your school to raise funds?? Or do you just criticise?

burberryqueen Wed 22-May-13 23:40:40

yes you are probably right but you know how some schools are....it is hard to convince them that anything is wrong with their policies or teachers, and you get sick of sticking your head over the parapet for nothing ....

Mosman Thu 23-May-13 04:39:47

A couple of the children hadn't taken it in and their names were read out from a list in front of the class and they were told they couldn't partake in the activity if their parent's didn't pay. I think that must have been really upsetting for the children in question.

I would have gone fucking ape shit at anyone who'd done that to a child in my children's class - even if it wasn't one of mine.
How dare they ?

There have been 2 trips cancelled in ds2 class this year because not enough parents paid the £10 they needed to go.

I honestly think that people need to consider where else the money would come from, if not from parental contributions? There would be no school trips.
The dressing up/charity/buy a cake things-it's to raise money for the school or for a good cause. Again, where else is this money going to come from?
For the most part, it's a bit of change, a pound here or there. But it makes a difference to the school.

Oh and whilst primary school might seem like a constant round of asking for a pound, £5, bring this, make that, it's not as bad as secondary.

Secondary, well dd and dd1 secondary school don't really ask for money throughout the year....however they love trips away.
Year 10 and 11 drama trip to New York at Easter. Lucky me that's both dd and DS. £1200. EACH.

xylem8 Thu 23-May-13 06:58:29

secondary school is worse here and also you have to contend with constantly replacing items getting lost and stolen. And this is a grammar school in a country town not chav high !

Bunbaker Thu 23-May-13 07:08:34

Great posts Tantrums, Cocktail, Chewing, smile Seeker and Clouds. I am a governor on the finance committee at a local school and for the first year ever the school is in deficit, and so are other local schools. The government funding cuts are really biting hard and if schools want to provide anything other than a basic sit at the desk lesson the money has to come from somewhere.

When DD was at primary school the PTA raised funds for loads of extras such as library books, painting lines on the playground for hopscotch and other games, buying laptops so the children had one each for ICT instead of having to share them, plus various other items to improve their learning experience at school.

BTW DD is in year 8 and so far I have been asked for far fewer contributions than I ever was when she was at primary school.

seeker Thu 23-May-13 07:09:28

"And this is a grammar school in a country town not chav high !"

Did you really mean to post that???

Chav high?

Are you for real?

SwishSwoshSwoosh Thu 23-May-13 07:29:11

I think schools do need to scale back a bit in bad economic times though. Trips are valuable, but when I was young we got a coach to the big park the other side of the city. That is adequate for bonding, change of scenery, group learning, getting out. It doesn't need to be a massive trip for children to get the benefits.

Again it is too much pressure being put on schools, who then transfer that to the parents (and in worst examples, to the children too).

CloudsAndTrees Thu 23-May-13 07:50:56

It's usually the coach part of a trip that costs the most money though, so whether you get a coach to a park on the other side of town or you get a coach to an outdoor education centre, the coach will still have to be paid for by parents. It might make the difference of a few pounds, but if parents are going to complain about it either way, then the school may as well get the best experience possible for the children.

WorrySighWorrySigh Thu 23-May-13 08:39:26

I think that schools do need to reconsider the trips which they propose. School is not the only thing in children's or their parents' lives. Should schools be offering fun or experience trips at all?

In my opinion they should not.

It should not be part of the school's remit to lay on trips to theme parks, play parks, residential adventure centres etc. At primary school age children dont need to be pushed to spend nights away from their families.

I dont know why schools started to offer these trips. They didnt exist when I was at school. They are hard work and a distraction for teachers (organising attendance, collecting money, arranging details etc etc). They are an additional cost and worry for some parents (how can I afford it? Will my child cope? etc etc). Do they really mean that much to the children who go? Mine certainly dont remember them.

ChewingOnLifesGristle Thu 23-May-13 08:45:36

Agree with you Worry regarding the type of trips you mention.

Educational visits though I am supportive of. But theme parks and residential trips esp in primary school are an extra.

I remember my junior school residential trip. It was 24 years ago but it was brilliant. We went camping, hiking, did water sports all sorts of stuff we would never have had the chance to do.

Dd and ds1 had an amazing time on their residential trip.
They are both going to Spain later on this year to represent the school in sports. Again, it wasn't a cheap trip but it will be a wonderful experience.

They also have a reward trip every term which we have to pay for but they are only invited if their attendance and behaviour is at the expected level.

I don't see any reason to stop these trips tbh.

twilight3 Thu 23-May-13 11:05:53

people who defend the schools over it are missing I think the point of the blackmail THROUGH young children. You can't keep complaining about teachers, nothing will happen and you'll end up being the unreasonable one as the school will cover for them. For months afterwards you will be the joke in the staff room (I'm not just imagining that). Any parent who has ever dared to complain at our school has been classed as precious, unreasonable, stuck up (these are just the few I've heard of first hand).

So, stop asking "how do you expect the school to pay" and answer me if possible my previous question: why should I pay for swimming, when it's compulsory? Does that not negate the concept of "free education"? I don't pay for their literacy or maths or history lessons... There is no transport involved. So £4 per 30 minutes x10 per child. What happens if I don't?

I don't mind paying for extra trips, days out, movie club, cooking club, all the EXTRA stuff that can make school fun. We never pay for charity or cake sales of mufti days as I have issues with the emotional blackmail put on little children shoulders. I donate my time to the school and the PTA and we do out charity bit out of school. My children now understand that and we're all happy with it.

However I find having to pay for a COMPULSORY part of the curriculum unethical. I can afford it. Not comfortably, it'll have to come out of the children's weekend activities, but we can do it. I know others who can't...

SwishSwoshSwoosh Thu 23-May-13 11:29:10

The two main costs are coach and entry. Hard to go anywhere without the coach but at least with free venue the total trip cost can be kept down to a tenner. Some venues are ten pounds and more. That is too much IMO.

Also schools can say no spending money or set a low pocket money limit, which helps parents.

time4chocolate Thu 23-May-13 11:57:12

I have to say that I seem to be forever (seems to be weekly but that might be a slight exaggeration) rummaging around for change or writing a cheque for my primary aged child. Made a payment last week for £10 for 5 cricket coaching sessions for my daughter who is not remotely interested in cricket (compulsory involvement as part of curriculum apparently). Dd is quite behind in maths but apparently cricket/yoga (£5) seems to take priority. Yesterday she bought a letter home as top two years of primary are having a sleepover at school, said yes she could go went to complete permission slip and payment of £15 is required with the instructions that she should have a main meal at home, drop at school for 7.30pm a snack will be provided with pick up at 8.00an prompt on Saturday. Am thinking what the hell I'll have them all over to my house if I can make that sort of money smile.

Blueskiesandbuttercups Thu 23-May-13 12:28:52

I think a lot of these companies eg the card makers,photo producers etc are out to fleece parents.The products cost pennies to make,are often crap,they use emotional blackmail.If said company goes bust you have no protection.I lost money on photos once because of this.

School should be free from marketing and money making schemes.

TenthMuse Thu 23-May-13 12:53:27

Teacher here, so have seen the other side of this. The sad truth is that families are struggling at present, but schools are too; there is often real pressure (both from some parents, and Ofsted/the government) to do more in the way of 'experiential learning' - trips, visits etc - but schools simply do not have the resources for this. In my experience, we're often damned if we do and damned if we don't - many parents want this kind of interactive learning for their children; many children learn best by getting out of the classroom and doing, but we're also painfully aware that an increasing number of families struggle to afford these 'extras'.

In my last school, many of the parents had found out that the previous year group had visited the seaside as part of their topic, and were reguarly asking us to arrange the same trip for their children. We phoned around every coach company in the area, and the lowest quote they gave us would require us to request £15 per child just for the coach. We didn't charge parents the full amount - the school met some of the costs - but we did have to ask for around £10, just to get the children to the seaside and back. Similarly, the local council music service once tried to charge us £400 for an hour-long demonstration of some Spanish/Latin American music as part of the school's Spanish Day. We told them where to go and managed to cobble something together ourselves, but it highlights how many of these educational services know they're on to a good thing and overcharge massively.

Another school I taught in tried to cut costs by using public transport for trips rather than coaches. Taking the train/Tube to a London museum, enabled us to reduce the cost to parents from £16 to £3. However, a significant minority of parents were so aghast at the prospect of their children taking the 'dangerous' train (even with a 1:3 adult:child ratio) that they refused to give permission for them to go. They would rather pay the full £16 for what they saw as the added peace of mind.

Lastly, as someone who has frequently had to accompany classes to school swimming lessons, I agree with the OP that these are often a complete waste of time; the children who can already swim end up bored, and those who can't rarely learn anything because the teaching groups are so big and the teachers so uninterested. I've intervened a couple of times because the pool staff were standing around chatting instead of actually teaching, and was given short shrift - they know that schools are compelled to use their services as part of the National Curriculum. Most schools I've taught in have allocated funds for swimming themselves, but nonetheless if I were the OP I would raise this matter with the school.

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.

The school that my DCs attend are buggers for sending out demands for £3 for this visiting author, £4 for that drum workshop, £1 for the charity day, please send cakes for the sale, etc ... all with f-all notice.

The school where I teach has a list in the newsletter of all the planned things for the next term, with estimated prices, so there are no shocks. One major trip per year for each year group. One mufti day per term max.

Mine are going on a fabulous historical day that will involve a coach, entry and costumes. It is well worth it. We've had a nightmare paring down the cost and tried hard to get it down to £20, but just could not get a coach for the price, even with PTA subsidy.

musicalfamily Fri 24-May-13 21:55:45

Ours is probably one of the worst ones, supporting a large number of charity and any business/money making initiative going, it's a constant stream of things!

I have now a deal with the (older) children that if it is a charity they really want to support or the latest frame/craft/DVD/peg/doll/bun they want to buy, then they can use their own pocket money. After all it is nothing to do with education but the same as going to buy something from a stall/store.

They are perfectly happy with this approach. School trips/books/anything educational or even PTA fundraising I am happy to fund, but buy-a-bracelet/necklace/fill this tub with coins for charity x and all the rest that we get all the time, then it's the kids' choice.

We do support our own charities and do a lot for the community so it's not the case of being stingy, I just refuse to get told which charity I should support via my children and doing so in such a way that I feel morally obliged to do so - frankly I think it should be banned.

Fairyliz Fri 24-May-13 22:36:31

Op if you are on Income Support surely you can apply for free school meals? If you get free meals the school will also get pupil premium. At the school where I work some of this money goes into a hardship fund to pay for the families who are struggling.
I would go and have a word with the office.

colditz Sat 25-May-13 13:01:07

We already have free school meals, and the school know this. There is a high proportion of children with fsm in our school. Maybe this is why the mither for money so much, maybe a lot of parents can't afford to pay so just don't.

MrsFruitcake Sat 25-May-13 14:12:16

DD's school have a £30 'voluntary' donation system which is payable at the start of the school term in September. It isn't really voluntary after all, as if you don't get the money to them in the first 2 weeks or so, they send letters home asking if there's a reason why you can't pay it which is very wrong IMHO and worse than asking for it in the first place.

She's been to Marwell Zoo this year so far and that's it. hmm

ggirl Sat 25-May-13 14:20:52

I love the word mithering

seeker Sat 25-May-13 15:02:11

My mil tells the children off for "mithering" her!

Our builder told me that his son goes on a skiing trip next February to Canada with an additional night in NYC before. It costs £1140. I was like blush

JulesJules Sat 25-May-13 18:53:03

We had an email from school recently which said

Can all parents who have not yet paid the voluntary contribution for xxx please do so as soon as possible

grin

IneedAsockamnesty Sat 25-May-13 23:41:37

colditz

At the top of the page is your inbox can you please check it,doing so will save you about £14 per week.

A few years ago I offered a local school free use of a company bus and driver ( all correct LA required checks as its a school bus that does LA runs) for swimming lessons and school trips on the condition that they stopped charging parents for trips to free places weirdly they refused as they wished to use a different company who charged loads.

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