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To Think I Shouldn't Pay Full Whack for 'Educational' School Trips?

(109 Posts)
JoffreyBaratheon Wed 09-Dec-15 12:00:31

On the breadline, here. Minimum wage, tax credits, 5 kids only 2 still at home the rest are adults. Xmas coming; this very week have had to pay for husband's work do, colleague bday contribution - even £15 down is enough to turn into a tailspin for us and we have somehow had to find and put aside a small amount of cash for our teenagers' xmas present.

Now I just have had a call from my kids' high school 'finance officer' (wtf?) insisting we pay £30 for a school trip that is happening in March.

I said due to our circumstances, I can only pay some of it now and some later.

Pisses me off because I used to teach in the inner city and if a parent couldn't afford to pay for a trip, I'd turn a blind eye, tip the secretary the wink, and so long as the forms were signed, the child came along. I wanted to pay only £10 now but after some argy bargy, she pressurised me into £15. On the twatty Parentpay website, so she said she would go into the site at her end and adjust the amount (she hasn't - but I know it is a primitive and badly designed site so maybe they can't?) She said even if I pay £15 now I have to pay the rest in January.

She caught me on the back foot - I was busy and had no idea who she was or why she was phoning.

Now I am starting to feel royally pissed off. Are educational school trips still not free or reduced for the poor, then? How the fuck I am supposed to find £30 not only christmas month but with one boy needing new shoes, them both needing hair cuts etc etc.

If schools can afford to employ 'finance' people they can afford to cover shortfalls on trips, no?

Or is it me being the dick? It's a long time since I was a teacher but I did everything in my power for every child in my class to be a part of every trip and with zero humiliation for parents. I handled it myself (no 'finance officers') and I handled it kindly and discreetly.

Or do we now have to pay for educational trips in full regardless of circs? What happened to that voluntary contribution thing?

honeysucklejasmine Wed 09-Dec-15 12:05:02

Do your children receive pupil premium? Discuss it with the pastoral staff - they should be able to use it to subsidise trips (unless they've already spent it on things that have benefitted your children).

AyeAmarok Wed 09-Dec-15 12:05:27

Just say you can't afford it and DC can miss it. If you don't have it, you don't have it.

BarbarianMum Wed 09-Dec-15 12:08:23

If you can't pay, don't. Maybe the school can afford to help, or maybe they'll have to cancel the trip. This happened a lot at dc's school, so now they get one trip a year and the school pays.

Stratter5 Wed 09-Dec-15 12:08:50

Sounds like you should be getting Pupil Premium. DD2 18yo is PP, and gets a full bursary and FSM. I've not been asked to contribute to either of her trips so far (2 in first term so phew!).

Pupil Premium = FSM, and possibly travel to/from school, although that depends on further criteria.

JoffreyBaratheon Wed 09-Dec-15 12:08:53

honeysuckle, I don't know what 'pupil premium' is - so they probably don't. We're not unemployed and they don't have special needs..? (Well one is dyspraxic but the school have done bugger all about it).

The irony is, this woman is part of the 'inclusion' office. grin) I'm not feeling my son is hugely 'included' at the moment - as he would have been embarrassed in front of everyone and told he wasn't going if I don't pay something today.

tethersend Wed 09-Dec-15 12:10:25

If it's a non-residential trip which is part of the curriculum, they can only ask for voluntary contributions.

Your DC can go on the trip whether you can pay or not.

tethersend Wed 09-Dec-15 12:12:58

Guidance here

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 12:13:04

Did you get a letter about the trip? Did it say anything about contacting the school if there was a problem with paying for it?

Are your children on free school meals?

Does the school know about your circumstances?

JoffreyBaratheon Wed 09-Dec-15 12:14:01

It's allegedly part of the curriculum, I'm guessing - some sort of 'conference' on German.

This woman was a bit like an insurance salesman or something - very hard line, and no mention of 'voluntary contributions' which is what made me suspect that might be no longer a thing. Knowing the way things are going.

My view is if it is educational, he should be able to go.

The more I'm thinking about it the more pissed off I feel - I handled parents with tact and compassion. Now they have accountant drones to twist your arm and this Parentpay crap they are probably paying a fortune for, every year, which has no flexibility in the system?

JoffreyBaratheon Wed 09-Dec-15 12:16:21

Bertrand free school meals are only for the unemployed - I think there is a certain benefit (not tax credits) you have to get, to qualify. So we have less money than many unemployed families but have to cover the entire cost of trips and school meals. As do millions of other low-income-but-employed families.

AliceInUnderpants Wed 09-Dec-15 12:17:09

Presumably you've had notice of this school trip and knew when payment was due? That's why they've contacted you, as it's not been paid. Did you not contact them about payment options then?

DinoSnores Wed 09-Dec-15 12:22:02

Free School Meals are not just for the unemployed. Do look into if you are eligible. You might be surprised.

www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals

lilydaisyrose Wed 09-Dec-15 12:22:55

I'd contact the Head and if you get nowhere with this, then contact your MP/MSP. At my children's school (primary) - this is at the Head's discretion and there is a pot of money for families that will struggle with trips.

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 12:24:08

FSM are not just for the unemployed- but if you are both working it's unlikely that your income is low enough for you to qualify.

Was there anything on the letter you got about the trip about contacting the school if there were any problems?

DinoSnores Wed 09-Dec-15 12:25:27

Might also be worth looking at www.entitledto.co.uk/ to see if you are entitled to any benefits, which might then make you eligible for FSM.

citybushisland Wed 09-Dec-15 12:26:12

Schools 'should' have provision to help those less well off, 2 years ago my eldest came home with a note asking for £350 for a 2 night (in a YMCA) residential trip. Trip was essential and counted towards her Geography GCSE, OH was unemployed at the time, I was on NMW, we have 3 kids. No mention had been made of this trip during options, I said we couldn't afford it. The school paid from the pastoral fund, I did have to stress that as we didn't have the money, she wouldn't be going before it was offered.

JoffreyBaratheon Wed 09-Dec-15 12:26:19

Alice my husband did, about a month ago. As it's not til March, I forgot all about it. She says he didn't speak to her and whoever he spoke to, didn't pass the message on. (He wasn't to know - til recently we have just rung the office and spoken to whoever answered the phone).

I've just looked this up. Apparently voluntary contributions are still a thing and they are not allowed to put the frighteners on you, etc so a 'finance officer' ringing you to demand the money as they're booking TODAY is probably breaking the rules.

www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/365929/charging_for_school_activities_-_October_2014.pdf

It's incredibly strange in this day and age to assume people can just drop £30 like that. NO mention of a deadline on Parentpay either.

But anyway, if it is a voluntary contributions thing I could refuse point blank to pay and they'd still have to let him go so what is the legality of ringing people up demanding money?

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Wed 09-Dec-15 12:26:52

Ring your DC form tutor or head of year and explain. Get them on side and let them sort it.

tethersend Wed 09-Dec-15 12:27:40

Can anyone actually see me? grin

BertrandRussell Wed 09-Dec-15 12:30:12

Who said that?

DinoSnores Wed 09-Dec-15 12:31:03

grin

PerspicaciaTick Wed 09-Dec-15 12:41:50

You have ever right to refuse the pay a voluay contribution, but the school may choose to cancel the whole trip if they (as a school) can't afford to subsidise all the children whose parents don't pay.

ButterflyUpSoHigh Wed 09-Dec-15 12:44:59

Our letters always say if they do not receive enough voluntary contributions the trip will not go ahead. They probably wanted to know if you had any intention of paying so they would know if they needed to cancel. We had 3 months notice to pay for Year 6 residential at £150. We are also on low income receiving tax credits. Those on income support get the trip free of charge.

expatinscotland Wed 09-Dec-15 12:47:43

'this very week have had to pay for husband's work do, colleague bday contribution '

Why doesn't he say 'NO' to both these, too.

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