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School is making me (even more) skint

(38 Posts)
LollipopsandWine Wed 14-Jun-17 15:03:33

Bit of a rant really. We are by no means a household with any form of disposable income. Just me, DD and my partner. Lately our budget has gotten much tighter - we are now struggling for rent - and every time I try to crunch the numbers I notice that school is basically bankrupting me.

My DD has packed lunches, after having her on free meals for a year. She ate nothing on offer, and would only eat a cheese sandwich. My DD eats well at home, so I spoke to the school. They said they "couldn't spend time helping her get her lunch every day". Turned out she was just really nervous about going up and asking for a lunch, so she didn't. Obviously couldn't let that go on, and with no help from school she now has packed lunch. Expensive.

Then there's a plethora of trips, which I am grateful for but more than 2 days notice would be lovely when it comes to paying for them.
Then there's the constant lost cardigans and water bottles and wven a full lunch box once! All of which go missing INSIDE the school, never to return, and I then have to buy new.

And finally, the thing that sent me over the edge today: school photos. I have never once been able to afford a school photo in the 3 years my DD has been at school. They have just text to say that photo day is tomorrow. Leaving me no time to save up for the photo.

Do other people have this or am I extraordinarily broke? We have no luxuries at all; I don't even buy DD any sweets or little toys like the other Mums sometimes have at pickup time sad

Please tell me I am not alone? (First post - be nice!)

OP’s posts: |
fuzzyfozzy Wed 14-Jun-17 15:16:16

I would make an appointment with the head or learning mentor.
If a child needs help choosing lunch, it's available.
Re trips, there's usually a fund available.
Re photos, ask them for the times they'll be asking for money. Or try to put a couple of pounds away a week just for school bits.
Re lost property, go in and make a nuisance of yourself going through the lost property. Also make it your child's responsibility to look after their things. Some ch really don't seem to care about them.

Trytowin Wed 14-Jun-17 15:16:39

Can you not get your​ dd back on free school meals? Her being too anxious to ask can't really be parked as the schools fault.

The rest I agree with you notice should be given, take a nice pic in uniform yourselves (probably better than most school ones without the hefty price tag!)

LollipopsandWine Wed 14-Jun-17 16:36:23

I have tried speaking to the school, honestly, but maybe I do just need to make a bit more noise about it. I've also lectured my daughter chronically about not leaving jumpers/water bottles/whatever else but yes tbh she seems to be one of those children who coulsn't care less for a school jumper until she needs it.

As for the photo I think yes definitely a nice one taken at home will look much better and be cheaper too. Just sort of feel like I should have one of the school ones, like maybe it's a sign I'm a bit crappy for not having one. Pretty sure that's just me.

And yes I could get her back on dinners but I don't want to if she won't be eating properly - I'm not so much blaming the school, just wish they could have helped more so that she could have gotten over her issues with picking food.

Thank you for replying! is acing mumsnet

OP’s posts: |
ginorwine Thu 15-Jun-17 15:14:58

We had similar it's a drain
I'd try and get back on the meals if dd can cope - perhaps with a buddy system at school to raise confidence
Label all school stuff - doesn't always help as it depends on others returning stuff taken by accident etc
Def go and look Thro lost property - schools sometimes sell off stuff if no one claims it to raise funds - check the school does this ?

LollipopsandWine Thu 15-Jun-17 20:58:52

Omg ginorwine I did not know they could be selling it!!! Whenever she comes out without something I send her straight back in to look for it, but I have been known to stand at the door until 4.45pm (she finishes at 3.30) and then be told by the teacher they have no idea where 'item' went, and they will find it the next day.

They never actually do, and I've never even been shown the lost property box. I'll be even more annoying about it in future I think!

OP’s posts: |
Starlight2345 Thu 15-Jun-17 21:39:44

Your DD should know where lost property box is.

I have always found as well if my DS comes home without a jumper I send him back without one, it seems to help. If I send another one in 2 get lost.

I also use sew in labels they are much more obvious .

confusedofengland Fri 16-Jun-17 09:04:47

One thing to help with uniform - can you see if there is a Facebook page for secondhand uniform for your DD's school? Or if not, set one up? I did just that & most people give things away, they are happy things are going to a good home!

I do definitely find that school is a money drain. I have 1 in Juniors, 1 in Infants & 1 in preschool. Constant demands for money, all × 3 - uniform, photos, dress down days, fetes, sponsored events, snacks/lunches, trips, clubs & more. Infant school has even asked for £10 per term per child as not enough government funding.

ginorwine Fri 16-Jun-17 13:03:18

Think schools only sell after a good while not straight away
Oft at fairs etc
When people have had good length time to check list property ?

SandyDenny Fri 16-Jun-17 13:09:12

Defintitely make an effort to check the lost property, my dcs school put it's all in the hall at the end of term and I'm always amazed at what's in their - shoes and winter coats

Labelling will help to identify any lost stuff that a member of staff might come across and should help it get back to you.

Your school is very efficient with the photos, it always seems to be weeks between it being taken and having to pay for the order here.

They won't be selling stuff without telling parents, no point in having a sale if no-one knows about it smile. Ask in the office it that's what they do after a certain time

LollipopsandWine Fri 16-Jun-17 13:29:20

Thanks for all the replies everyone. I think it all just hit at the worst time, with DP pretty much losing his entire business in the last few weeks and all of a sudden money is an issue.

I have double labelled everything since her first year because of how much got lost, but it hasn't helped this year. I just don't understand where the stuff could be going when the childrenare monitored constantly??

I will be looking in lost box at pick up tobight anyway, but I am really glad to hear it isn't just me! The good news is I had an interview yesterday and start my new job at 8pm tonight - so hopefully that will help us claw back some stability smile

OP’s posts: |
ifonly4 Tue 20-Jun-17 14:24:04

The children have to go in for lunch even if they don't want to eat it at our school. If the supervisors can't get them in, then their teacher or teacher on duty will insist. We can't make them eat, but if they won't eat their dinner (there's always a choice), it's normally suggested they go and get something off the salad bar (where there's lovely homemade bread as well) and to try and choose a healthy option for pudding, although, anything is better than nothing in their tummies. they probably haven't got the time to totally fuss over your DD while she's eating, but I can't believe they wouldn't insist she went in for her meal as they have to look after her welfare.. She should be going in with her year group in any event so shouldn't feel uncomfortable about having her meal.

Babyroobs Tue 20-Jun-17 19:18:53

I don't understand why the lunches are so expensive? You can buy reduced price brown bread or pitta bread very cheaply, a multipack f crisps from pound land works out to less than 20p per packet and a piece of fruit max 20p or yoghurt. Sandwich fillings can be cheese or ham not too maybe 60p a day for packed lunch, £3 a week, can drink water which is free.
Make sure all school uniform clearly labelled and check local charity shops for spares or see if school resells stuff from kids that have left. photos are optional , you don't have to buy. Tell your child you will buy them later when you have more money, she most likely won't remember. Ask if there is any help for low income families for school trips or just set aside a pound or two each week for such things.

wowbutter Tue 20-Jun-17 19:33:31

School trips are normally a donation, don't donate.
Packed lunches are cheap, if she won't have dinners, make it as cheap as possible.
You don't need a photo.

And no, school stuff will not look for stuff your child loses. Name it, make her look, take an unnamed one out the lost property, you have options.

user1497212915 Tue 20-Jun-17 21:47:35

Hiya, oh I feel for you. The School isn't intentionally doing it, but I think they should be giving you more warning on things such as trips/photos.
Having worked in a school as a finance officer, I have an idea on how the school would see it. If your child is entitled to FSM then your schools PDG grant should cover any trip your daughter takes. I would call the school office and ask that you remain on that list for trip purposes. It costs the school nothing. I wouldn't work as some others have said and say that it's a 'donation' as it's simply not true. Grants only cover children on FSM and if your daughter isn't on the list and you don't pay you are negatively impacting on the school finances.
Packed lunches can be cheap but obviously if you could persuade your daughter to try lunches again that would be preferable as they are free!
Photos, cardigans, juice bottles...they all add up and I feel your pain, but that's the joy of being a parent. Best of luck Hun xx

coolaschmoola Tue 20-Jun-17 21:55:02

Max Spielmann do excellent professional photos for very little money. If you have one near you you could save up until you can afford it and still have a professional 'school' photo in uniform without the ridiculous price tag.

grasspigeons Tue 20-Jun-17 21:57:09

I am sorry to hear how hard things are for you financially. It must be really tough.

The school my children go to has a savings account basically, you can pop money in weekly and then when trips etc come up its there. Could your school look at that or could you set it up yourself. There will always be trips etc so start putting a pound a week away and it won't be a shock when there is no notice.

I also think meeting with someone might help as there can be funding for trips if you are pupil premium or some local charities help.

The school should help her get dinner everyday if need be - please go speak to them.

I think your child does need to take a bit of responsibility for their own stuff. Do your school have a good second hand stock to buy from as that always helps too.

Muchtoomuchtodo Tue 20-Jun-17 22:06:11

Please ask again about help for your dd to decide what she'd like for lunch. We can download the menu to print at home so that we know what the choices will be in advance - is that an option?

Trips and photos will happen each year so could you put a £ aside each week to be able to manage when things come up? I looked at the term planner for the years ahead too so that I knew that they have residential trips in the autumn term of years 5 and 6 so could anticipate the request for a deposit in the summer term before the trip.

Being a parent governor is great for being able to raise problems such as poor communication and lack of notice of trips. Could you consider something like that? I bet if you're unhappy you're not the only one.

CaurnieBred Tue 20-Jun-17 22:20:10

Does the school website not have a calendar? Ours usually lists when the photo days are on there, weeks in advance. Or on a newsletter?

LisaMed1 Wed 21-Jun-17 19:11:13

I counted up the cost of things in Reception. I didn't include uniform or school lunches but only things like non-uniform days and bags of reindeer food at Christmas (and the school photos which I refuse to get anymore). Just for 'wants' or 'asks' it came to £150 over the year, for a 4-5 year old.

SandyDenny Wed 21-Jun-17 20:13:23

Schools vary hugely on what they ask for. Excluding educational trips and residentials I'm sure I won't have even paid £150 for the whole time in primary, I don't think my DCs School asks for much at all

LollipopsandWine Wed 21-Jun-17 20:56:46

Wow lots of replies over here! I have had endless words with the school over lunches and lost items (which are all double labelled) and I have had stern words with her about just leaving her things and then complaining at me when they are lost. She has no concept of responsibility at all. The latest pain in the butt was the school starting a new after school club. I was excited as I didn't have to pay, it was first come first served and pupil premium children were guaranteed. My daughter has pupil premium.. But didn't get a place. We still haven't had an explanation.
The online calender is never up to date, the news letters are all supposed to be emailed now but the emails always come through late/missing bits/attached document isn't there. Honestly I'm tempted to move her.
In the last week I have started a new job, which was great news and I almost felt a bit more secure. But then my cat needed emergency treatment (thread is over in the litterbox) so obvs that has sucked up a huge amount of money since I cancelled her insurance plan when we couldn't afford it.
I guess in a way I'm half way to sorting it but I am alarmed to hear that not many people have a list of issues like this with school... Is mine just a lousy one?

OP’s posts: |
LisaMed1 Wed 21-Jun-17 23:09:47

SandyDenny It never got quite that bad again, but there is always something. The last fortnight I've had to buy a yellow tshirt (ds loathes yellow) and red shorts for two separate events. I haven't bought school photos because they've been rubbish, but the 'non uniform' days, the sponsorships, the bits for this and that have kept mounting up.

LollipopsandWine You have to be completely on top of things. Some schools are better than others. I suggest that you politely keep on at the school about lead times. For what it's worth, I've had the most success when I put things in writing. I also suggest you keep a diary of what goes missing and ask anyone in the playground if they have similar issues.

smellyboot Wed 21-Jun-17 23:27:20

Can you at least buy supermarket stuff? I refuse to buy any logo stuff. I name all over the sharpie pen in obvious places. As a PP child does she not get free lunches? At our school there is always a sandwich option for those that refuse the hot meals.

megletthesecond Wed 21-Jun-17 23:33:21

The school should give you dates well in advance. We have school photo dates months in advance. At least it gives you a chance of budgeting that way.

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