Teachers - how often do you spend your own money, on buying things for school?

(66 Posts)
InternationalPower Wed 21-Aug-13 17:07:41

I am bursar at a state primary and have been shocked seeing posts on here suggesting that it is the norm for you to spend your own money on things for school. E.g something to support a child who is not being properly provided for at school, on rewards for your class or educational materials.

Is this really that common? Where I work there is money set aside in the budget specifically for these things. I would be horrified to think our staff were buying them from their own money.

SilverApples Wed 21-Aug-13 17:16:24

How long have you been a bursar, and have you always been in the same school? smile

Up to a couple of hundred a year, depending on the school and the level of deprivation and the needs of the class. I've bought everything from maths games, reward stickers and fiction books to paint, bread and jam and pencils.
Some schools had a little petty cash, and sometimes the PTA might give you money if you submitted a detailed request in triplicate to be argued over by a committee of yummy mummies.
Mostly not.

SilverApples Wed 21-Aug-13 17:17:42

Oh, I bought a carpet for the carpet corner once, from IKEA.
Worth every penny.

noisytoys Wed 21-Aug-13 17:19:11

My DM is a teacher I remember her always buying things for her class with her own money

SchrodingersFanny Wed 21-Aug-13 17:23:13

Loads. Because sometimes I want something from a shop that can't be ordered. And our finance person gets all huffy about it. So I just buy it myself.

I buy food and stuff as well.

Foxred10 Wed 21-Aug-13 17:23:37

DM is a teacher and I would estimate spends upwards of £500 a year on things for her class. Everything from little prizes (stickers / books / small cuddly toy) to stuff for wall displays and topics. She's also in the past provided food / clothes and shoes for kids who didn't have them.

TeamEdward Wed 21-Aug-13 17:23:46

I left teaching last year, but up to then I was often buying reward stickers and "prizes", books, paint, playdough, pencils, rubbers, laminating pouches. One memorable March we ran out of A4 paper, so had to bring our own in for the photocopier.
I would also buy things like cushions & rugs for the book corner, accessories for the role play area, et cetera.

It was a running joke that if you couldn't find something in our house it was because I had taken it into school.

InternationalPower Wed 21-Aug-13 17:24:24

Oh yes Silver, I'm aware my experience in limited. I've been there 2 years and just the one school, but the whole county council budgeting system encourages you to set things like: class budgets, which are for teachers to spend as they see fit on things like comics or sweets for use in class, there's one for pupil support which would be used where a child needed breakfast (at the same time as dealing with the relevant agencies re the underlying issues) educational resources come out of the appropriate subject budget.

We're not awash with cash and we shop around carefully to make sure it goes as far as possible, but the only time a teacher's request would be declined would be if it was an extravagant request which was not deemed value for money. Sometimes towards the end of the year if that particular budget has been spent, it might have to wait a while, but I really wouldn't want to think one of our teachers was spending their own money.

SuffolkNWhat Wed 21-Aug-13 17:25:31

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

SilverApples Wed 21-Aug-13 17:26:21

'It was a running joke that if you couldn't find something in our house it was because I had taken it into school.'

Gods yes, the wail of 'Muuuummm' as they realise some key part of the household is missing!

OldRoan Wed 21-Aug-13 17:28:49

I'm about to start my NQT year and started a thread asking people to talk me out of buying stuff - you might want to have a look here.

Like I say, I'm not even in school yet, but so far I have spent
-maybe £50 on books (some were during my PGCE year, but probably £20 in the last month) because the departing teacher told me the children didn't read any of the books in the class library and showed me all the additional books he had bought and would be taking with him
-sheets and sheets of stickers
-a laminator (and many laminating pouches)
-several colour ink cartridges
-a 'rug' (luxury bath mat), throw, and cushions to mark out my reading area (classroom doesn't have any spare corners)
-little bits and bobs for classroom rewards (funny shaped rubbers, plastic tat type toys)
-pen pots for the centre of the tables
-charity shop games/jigsaws (alphabet puzzles and the like)

There is so much I want my classroom to have, but I have been told the budget is tight and since cushions aren't vital to my teaching, I don't feel I can ask them to pay for them for me. I am aware, however, that a lot of the children come from homes where books are few and far between and I want to make the reading area comfy and inviting. Part of the expense is because I've not been put onto the network yet and so can't use the school printer (can't even get into school until next week) but obviously need stuff to be ready. Also, some of it is (hopefully) a one-off expense, like the cushions. I was told I'll also need to buy my own boxes to store the children's work books in and somewhere for PE Kit to go ("too cluttered" to have it hanging off pegs) but the departing teacher said he would try and leave some behind for me, so holding fire on that until I see what I've got.

Does your school expect teachers to be able to walk into the classroom with everything there, OP, or do you just give them a budget and let them order things?

(Sorry, that was a bit long).

SilverApples Wed 21-Aug-13 17:29:10

I wasn't meaning to sound unkind IP, but it's the sort of question a newbie would ask, and I've been in the game almost 30 years.
Don't lose your sense of outrage that this is happening all over the country, will you? Has been for decades.

OldRoan Wed 21-Aug-13 17:30:17

Sorry, x-post about the budget thing.

SchrodingersFanny Wed 21-Aug-13 17:32:11

But what councils and finance people often see as extravagant, can actually be things that make a real difference.

almapudden Wed 21-Aug-13 17:40:44

Quite a bit. TBH I could claim most of it back, but it's such a faff to fill in all the paperwork. Similarly, some stuff I could order through school in the first place, but the order would have to be signed off by about three different people and I just can't be bothered.

SilverApples Wed 21-Aug-13 17:43:18

And the explaining and the justifying. Politicians don't go through anything like the same level of interrogation when they are buying duckhouses for their own bloody ducks, and wallpaper for their third pied-a-terre.
We want a few sensory items, or books or stencils for other people's children and it's a three ring circus.

It was a running joke that if you couldn't find something in our house it was because I had taken it into school. Oh yes!!!

Pens, pencils and stickers as rewards for something separate from the school merit marks system.

Folders to sort resources in a way that makes my life easier.

Whiteboard markers in the colours that I like. School bought black, blue, red... I have purple, green, orange, yellow!

Laminating pouches, card and paper for my displays. There are NEVER enough available in school. This also means that what I made I took with me when I changed schools.

Random objects as needed for maths, topics, science or DT such as foil, bowls, material, cardboard boxes...

Lots of non-fiction books for science and topic work, all acquired 2nd hand and with my name on a sticker on the cover. They go into school as needed and come home again for safe keeping.

Lots of poetry books and story books, etc. I borrow lots of these from my own DC's bookshelves, but they have their own name stickers on. Maths stories are a current phase of collecting.

What I don't buy is consumables for the pupils.

Phineyj Wed 21-Aug-13 21:31:08

What alma said. I also spend a fortune on printer toner and paper because the print budget is so tight and the IT is unreliable. However, as I was self-employed before entering teaching I can at least deduct the expenses against tax.

soapboxqueen Thu 22-Aug-13 00:37:13

With exception of major pieces of furniture, I don't think there is anything I haven't bought before now. I think most teachers get the gist very quickly that if you want it or need it it's probably quicker and easier just to get it yourself. Some schools are better than others at encouraging staff to put receipts in for items they have bought but it is hard to get out of the habit.

Mostly I just see it as making my life easier or saving me time. I buy whiteboard markers because the ones we had were running out or made such a mess they wasted valuable teaching time, which in turn makes my life harder. I buy rewards because a better behaved class makes my life easier. I buy resources because I then don't have to spend time making something or spend hours trying to replan a lesson to exclude a resource yet make it just as good. I buy teaching resources so that I don't have to waste time reinventing the wheel.

I also buy things because the children I teach deserve nice things and it makes them happysmile

Awakeagain Thu 22-Aug-13 09:16:34

I've been a teacher for 3 years (1 of these years on mat leave) going I to my 3rd year group in sept so some things I've made/purchased/acquired will be relevant, many things won't be!

This hols I have got 15 magazine boxes from ikea as one of my year group partners thought we wouldn't be allowed them on our order, new role play stuff (lots of!!) as different role play areas this year and whilst school do have some stuff its not always relevant/what I want
New pots, throws etc, I do have cushions and some throws
Also 2 new books which will be used in lit for the first few weeks of school

I already have a laminator, paper cutter, and buy lots of bits and bobs like prizes, stickers, postcard rewards

Can't see school buying prizes for the kids!!
I think although many people are shock at it, it happens but the stuff is mine and I will keep it

All the time. We no longer have subject or departmental budgets. We have to 'bid' to the head if we want to buy anything for class or subjects. Basically, go and plead our case and beg for every little thing.
There are lots of wider issues in our school around management etc.

Sometimes I can't be bothered with the confrontation and cross examination because I need some bloody pritt-sticks or books based around a certain interest or I need to restock the garage role-play box. I just buy the stuff myself. I often buy snack if snack money doesn't cover it that week.

It's hard to get used to, because as a school in a deprived area, we used to have access to thousands and thousands of pounds of extra money from various initiatives that no longer exist and pupil premium goes no way to make up for.
Those funds would get paid directly into my department budget and I would spend as appropriate.

I will, by the way, be taking any non-consumables with me when I leave.

GetStuffezd Thu 22-Aug-13 14:30:15

My school are really good about paying us our expenses back immediately. It can be anything from clay to cooking ingredients. I'm quite often skint and if I ask, the bursar will give me the money in advance. If it's a class treat I don't mind purchasing the popcorn, sweets or things like that.

GW297 Fri 23-Aug-13 00:00:14

I have never worked in a school or heard of a school with a class budget. I buy pretty much everything myself!

cricketballs Fri 23-Aug-13 15:01:17

from a secondary point of view I purchase textbooks, stationary etc myself as the budget is very tight, there are far to many rings to jump through just to order a pencil that I find its easier for me to just buy it myself in order to ensure my day runs as smoothly as possible

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