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... to be annoyed at school asking for money so aggressively?

(149 Posts)
HoneyBadgerApparently Wed 18-Oct-17 19:17:13

My sons school have been asking for £10 ‘activity money’ since the start of term. At first it started with letters, then texts, and now today a letter that has a big spiel frankly shaming the people who haven’t paid and saying they will be speaking to individual parents if the money isn’t paid in the next couple of weeks. It’s a non-faith state school and at no point have they stated the donation is voluntary. My husband is an accountant and I was (now a SAHM) and we know the school shouldn’t do this.
We live in an area of very mixed incomes. We’re lucky enough to be able to afford to pay this sort of thing without an issue (we paid on this first day, the reminders go out to everyone), however some of the parents at the school are struggling to buy their kids a warm coat never mind money for pantomimes, charity christmas cards, own clothes day, trips etc and with multiple kids it all adds up. It doesn’t mean these parents care less about their child’s education! Today in the playground I could hear a mother worriedly telling a friend they didn’t have the money (she had 3 kids with her, £30 could be their weekly food shop…)
AIBU to mention to a staff member that they should legally be stating the donation is voluntary? And not shaming people! I don’t want to be ‘that’ mum, but I feel like they are bullying people who likely don’t know this is optional. The letter sounds more like a bailiff letter than a school that should be supporting vulnerable families.

ladyvimes Wed 18-Oct-17 19:22:33

What’s the money for?
If it is for a curriculum activity they can only ask for a donation (e.g cooking ingredients, or equipment, etc). If it’s for a specific non-curriculum activity (e.g trip kayaking or something - Sorry a random suggestion but can’t think of a better one) they can say if you don’t pay the child doesn’t join in but this money doesn’t sound like it’s for something like that.

Rheged Wed 18-Oct-17 19:23:57

That’s really not on. I know school budgets have been slashed and money is very tight but hassling possibly vulnerable families for money that may be earmarked for the food shop or gas bill isn’t fair. If you are able to speak up the next I think you should. Someone really hard up may be embarrassed to admit this to the school.

HoneyBadgerApparently Wed 18-Oct-17 19:25:26

They've never actually said what it's for, I think it's just general money for the school. Whenever they have a trip or pantomime we're asked to pay for that as well. We've paid about £25 for separate things so far this term.

magpiemischief Wed 18-Oct-17 19:25:31

Send a copy of the letter to the LA and OFSTED, together with a list of your concerns. That should do it. I wouldn’t even engage with the school on this, they obviously have little regard for the parents if they can do this in such an aggressive way,

mummymummums Wed 18-Oct-17 19:26:37

YANBU but personally if you're going to raise it as an issue with the school, I'd do it anonymously and set out s the info you need to put them in their place, without being labelled a troublemaker

HoneyBadgerApparently Wed 18-Oct-17 19:28:14

Rheged that's what I thought. If my DH lost his job or something and we couldn't pay I'd be mortified. I'd rather take out a pay day loan than talk to them and that's how people get into trouble...

Pengggwn Wed 18-Oct-17 19:31:08

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

EvilDoctorBallerinaVampireDuck Wed 18-Oct-17 19:31:38

What's activity money?

Danceswithwarthogs Wed 18-Oct-17 19:31:40

I think you should raise it, it may be easier for you to speak out, rather than one of the struggling families who may already feel stigmatised about it (not that they should).... The first two half terms are always expensive with winter coat/shoes new uniform then Christmas.

Awwlookatmybabyspider Wed 18-Oct-17 19:34:27

I wouldn't even take any notice. Its not a tax summons. What are they going to do take you to court or kick your ds out of the school.

Awwlookatmybabyspider Wed 18-Oct-17 19:36:27

That said the school are behaving like bullies.
I second reporting to Ofsted

gamerchick Wed 18-Oct-17 19:40:37

Bloody right I would send a copy of the letter to any body with clout.

I know schools are struggling and I’m fortunate to be able to pay for stuff but never have I known the bairns school to bully people like this. Disgraceful!

In fact I feel bloody lucky mines in such a fantastic state school. I’ll be sorry when he leaves.

cingolimama Wed 18-Oct-17 19:53:17

That's outrageous! I'm aware that schools are struggling at the moment, but they can't specify an amount, then harass parents to pay, and worse, humiliate them in the process.

I don't know any state school that isn't asking for a voluntary contribution these days. They need the money and most parents don't mind giving something. But it has to be emphasised (as it is at DD's school) that any contribution (no matter how small the amount), is welcome, and COMPLETELY VOLUNTARY.

HoneyBadgerApparently Wed 18-Oct-17 19:54:10

Thanks, I think I'm gonna have a word with the assistant head (whose name is on the letter) at home time tomorrow. I don't want to contact LA without giving them a chance... Do you think it's possible they don't realise they can't demand?

Orangedragonfly Wed 18-Oct-17 19:55:10

I agree with Waterhogs and I think it is great that you want to speak out. It doesn't make you 'that' mum.

Bubblebubblepop Wed 18-Oct-17 19:55:26

Disgraceful I would complain to the governors. There is something very wrong with their handling of the budget if they claim they have to do this

Ttbb Wed 18-Oct-17 19:56:08

Many parents and teachers forget that state schools exist to serve the poorest children in our community instead shaming such families for be unable to pay. This kind of behaviour is shameful.

HoneyBadgerApparently Wed 18-Oct-17 19:56:48

If for example they sent out a letter saying not every parent is able to donate, please can people who can afford to give a bit more etc I would be happy to give another tenner while I'm in the position to and I'm sure many others would too... It's a shame because they're actually really good with the kids.

magpiemischief Wed 18-Oct-17 19:58:08

Do you think it's possible they don't realise they can't demand?

No, not really.

ArcheryAnnie Wed 18-Oct-17 19:58:53

I've known parents to be really ashamed and upset when they can't pay this "voluntary" payment. (I'm looking at you, WLFS.)

It's a disgrace. Of course the school can ask parents for money, but chasing them and harrassing them is just not on. It's a state school, ffs - it's supposed to be free at the point of delivery, and we all pay through our taxes to make it so.

SilverSpot Wed 18-Oct-17 20:01:31

You should be the one to speak out - like you say people who are actually struggling will already feel stigmatised by these letters.

Pavlova31 Wed 18-Oct-17 20:01:34

Reminds me of when kids were in primary school. Activity payments or other money requests were 'voluntary' but any parents not paying up would be repeatedly reminded they needed to do so .At the door in front of the other parents hmm

Pinkvoid Wed 18-Oct-17 20:02:53

At my DC’s school they state how school trip money isn’t mandatory but the trip may be cancelled if enough funds aren’t received which is fair enough however the teachers come out with clipboards chasing up parents that haven’t paid! Basically shaming them for maybe not being able to afford the non-mandatory payment! It truly makes me sick.

They’re forever asking for money. Last year I had to pay £3 to take my seven year old’s artwork home. It was a nice painting but Jesus Christ...

HoneyBadgerApparently Wed 18-Oct-17 20:04:35

Exactly ArcheryAnnie, that mum in the playground just really got to me, we were really poor when I was a kid (I'm one of 4) and my mum was always very proud and didn't want anyone to know iyswim. And she read with us every night and tested us before every exam and got my brothers apprenticeships and made sure we wouldn't struggle as much as she had :-/ ... The thought of her getting a letter like that 30 years ago pisses me off!

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