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to think if the letter says a voluntary contribution of £x then you don't HAVE to pay

(199 Posts)
PMDD Mon 20-Jan-14 17:53:45

I have 3 children at the same primary school. Since coming back to school in January the school have asked me for a VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTION of £14 for DD, £7.50 for DS1 and £5.00 for DS2 (school trips linked to their term topic). They have also asked for £1 for each child for 'arts week' and they have asked for £1 for each child for this Friday's mufti, which is followed by the school valentine disco of £2.50 per child.

That is £40!!!!

Other than mufti and the school disco, which they children don't have to do (although they will be very left out if they come in school uniform), the payment is voluntary. So would I be unreasonable to say that I will give them £5 per child for all the school activities.

I would like to add that my DS1 (year 6) and DS2 (year 4) are both going on school trips in May which cost £350 and £280 respectively, which I am paying £50 a month for since Sept last year!

PMDD Mon 20-Jan-14 17:54:05

Oh, also DS2 has weekly swimming lessons at £5/week for 6 weeks!!!

PMDD Mon 20-Jan-14 17:55:47

My friend is a single mum on benefits with twin boys in year 4. She is having kittens about paying for the May trip, let alone all the swimming and other trips.

givemeaclue Mon 20-Jan-14 17:56:29

Pay if you can,£40 isn't a lot for 3 kids.

givemeaclue Mon 20-Jan-14 17:57:12

Your friend needs to speak to the school re what they can do to help, pupil premium etc

yorkie11 Mon 20-Jan-14 17:57:25

In our school if you don't pay they chase you. I had 2 £25 activities in one term for 1 child although 1 was voluntary.

I also guess in our school that if you don't pay the child misses out.

rollonthesummer Mon 20-Jan-14 17:58:05

I've just organised a coach for a school trip-the prices are exorbitant. If you can afford it, pay.

Bonkerz Mon 20-Jan-14 17:58:07

Whilst they say it's voluntary, if no one pays the suggested amount then the trips would probably be cancelled!

yorkie11 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:00:44

I had £70 for 2 dc in one term. That was not counting the odd £1 here and there. Although I think people on fsm don't have to pay.
This yearwe have had £20 so far for 1 child and another £10 to buy artwork £12 for othdr child.

PMDD Mon 20-Jan-14 18:01:34

My friend on benefits went to the school re the May trip and was told that there was no help and not to worry as there are a handful of children that don't go each year due to finances. So she is really upset that her boys will be two of the 'poor handful'.

In a 4 week slot I will have to find £140 to pay for school activities (£100 is going towards each of my boys' May trips).

I can't afford to do it, so as they have said it is Voluntary, I will take them at their word. I will wait for the chasing conversations in the playground.

yorkie11 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:02:29

Yes your friend shoulddefinately check re fsm. They don't generally advertise that it is free if on fsm. You need to ask

yorkie11 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:02:53

Sorry cross post.

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 20-Jan-14 18:03:07

Why would you not pay and still expect everything for your children? You chose to have more than one so can hardly complain about costs.

Dont pay of you dont want to but then dont let the children take part. It sounds like you just dont want to as feel you are special as have a few to pay for.

Shente Mon 20-Jan-14 18:04:22

Schools have to say it's voluntary as they can't insist parents pay in a state school but they won't have the money to fund the trip if a lot of parents don't pay. If you genuinely can't afford it speak to the school. If you can you choose to pay or decide the trip is not of value to your child (it will be though) and say he / she is not going.

Smartiepants79 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:06:16

Well, no, technically you don't have to pay. However as others have said if too many families don't pay the trips are no longer financially viable and can't go ahead. Schools don't make a profit. They charge the minimum and often subsidise the trips.
There are ways for families who are truly struggling to pay what they can/ pay over time/ maybe not pay is it comes to it.
If you can, pay it.

SkinnybitchWannabe Mon 20-Jan-14 18:09:05

If I cant afford to send any of my ds on trips they don't go. Simple.
My eldest ds has already come home with letters for trips to Iceland and skiing. We can't afford to let him go so we said no.
Middle ds is going on a trip costing £160, which we are having to pay monthly.

Janethegirl Mon 20-Jan-14 18:10:09

However, playing devils advocate here, if it is voluntary the op has the right to 'choose' whether to pay or not. If it is necessary to pay so the children can participate in the activities, this should be made clear from the beginning.

yorkie11 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:10:11

The ones that annoy me the most is the curriculum days. Some outside company comes in and charges £10ish. School trips are fine but these workshops annoy me. Especially as most school seem to not charge for them. O and you can buy a costume for £30 as a footnote. Err no.

WooWooOwl Mon 20-Jan-14 18:10:44


The school says it's voluntary because they are forced to by law, not because they can magically find the money from somewhere else if you don't pay. They need the money to pay for the trip, and if they do manage to find it elsewhere then it's being taken away from other resources the school will need.

If your dc get FSMs you can ask if their pupil premium money can be used towards the trip, but if the school says no then the only reasonable thing you can do is to withdraw your children from the trip yourself. Otherwise the school could be forced to cancel the whole thing, and that would be incredibly unfair on all the other children.

Schools don't ask for money from parents just for shits and giggles, they ask for it so that they can provide the children with an enriching experience. It is really not too much to expect parents to pay for that when it's their children that will benefit.

If you can't or won't pay, then be gracious about it and don't make other children in the school suffer.

Smartiepants79 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:12:36

They cannot exclude a child because they can't pay. Not for whole class/curriculum based trips.

Thatisall Mon 20-Jan-14 18:15:45

I've been a position before now where I worried how I would afford dd's trips. But the thing is, children cost money. You should have to pay for your children's school trips. The same easy that a childless person might choose to spend their money on what they want their life to be, you chose to have three children. It's just how it is?

WeddingComingUp Mon 20-Jan-14 18:15:58

Yabu. £5 per child is less than the cost of the activity.

If you can't afford the activity, they don't go. You don't get an option to dictate how much you will pay.

casawasa Mon 20-Jan-14 18:16:08

Is there a parent council or similar that can do fundraising for trips etc? Maybe you could get involved.

yorkie11 Mon 20-Jan-14 18:17:27

Well a parent at our primary was rung up to chase payment and form. The member of staff ringing said we wouldn't want your child to miss out. Thus implying they would be excluded.

fluffyraggies Mon 20-Jan-14 18:17:49

OP if you cant afford it then you cant afford it. Sometimes the cost of a day trip is factored in with the knowledge that X% of parents wont be able or willing to pay.

You could have a word with the teacher, or office. Tell them that on this occasion you are struggling and say you are contemplating not paying and asking for your children to be left out of the trip and accommodated elsewhere in the school that day. Or suggest the reduced contribution idea and see how that goes down.

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