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Am I being unreasonable (10?) - what appears to be a school partnership with business

(36 Posts)
WideWebWitch Mon 09-Feb-04 21:01:47

Oh dear, I probably am and maybe I should just roll over and shut up but this has really got on my nerves today and I'd appreciate people's opinions.

All children at ds's school were sent home with an envelope today. On the front of the envelope it says "to parents, please return this form by xxx, from the headteacher." Inside was a letter from the school saying something like "we don't particularly endorse this company but have been asked to distribute information on their behalf - this may be of interest to you and benefit to your children etc etc" The company is a study company, providing Maths, English and other extra tuition. The letter, on school headed paper, also says "we would appreciate it if you would return the slip to your child's class teacher *no later than xxx this week*
(all this asterisked bit underlined) and "please return the reply slip even if you are NOT interested so that the school is aware that you have seen this leaflet".

Now, is it just me or is this outrageous? The school is passing on a leaflet from a profit making organisation. The "reply slip" and I use the quotation marks deliberately, asks for my name, address, postcode, phone no, child's age, date, school name and my signature!!! And the school are asking me to fill it in *even if I'm not interested* so they can send it back to this company. Who, I assume, are in business to make a profit. The school also accompanied this with a leaflet on "your child's targets", presumably to make us all worry about whether our child/ren were able to meet these without the help of xxx student study company as detailed in the sales leaflet sent out.

Since our school is a state school with no money I'm aware that they may have been paid for this. In which case, I think they should tell us and we (parents) can decide whether we are happy with it as a fundraising method. If they haven't been paid then what are they doing spending school time and resources on passsing on sales literature from a business? The school are always trying to raise funds and yet they clearly spent time and effort on this covering letter (on school headed paper!) and the whole thing. IMO this time and money could have been better spent. This is junk mail via my child!!

So my questions are:

* Am I right to be unhappy at this school/business partnership and approach to me with what is, in effect, junk mail? Would you be?
* What should I do?
* What are dept of education guidelines on this kind of thing?
* Is anyone else getting these?

Any and all opinions appreciated. TIA.

twiglett Mon 09-Feb-04 21:07:25

message withdrawn

jampot Mon 09-Feb-04 21:10:03

Aaaaaargh - I hate things like this. My reaction would be to bin it (if you're not interested). There is no obligation to return any slip or to divulge your personal details to anyone. The school can't do this either nor can they make you. So there. Your local LEA will probably tell you it's a school decision (as most things seem to be). What is the company name? My kids school distributed some study material free of charge a few years ago from a company called Satsoft (CD's with educational games) really good actually. I think you're quite right to raise the question of fundraising with the head/pta. There are lots of ways to increase revenue for the school without filtering junk mail - getting parents to fill out a gift aid form will increase charity pta funds by 28% to start with.

beetroot Mon 09-Feb-04 21:10:32

Message withdrawn

lydialemon Mon 09-Feb-04 21:12:03

We had this last term, and I objected to it too. The teacher I spoke to wasn't that happy with it either. I didn't return it,I just binned it.

Janh Mon 09-Feb-04 21:16:08

I wouldn't like this either, www. Putting the letter on school headed paper is just *wrong*.

I think I would return it, with just child's name on, so it can be handed in and then he won't be mithered about it. Or else with a positive "NOT INTERESTED" written across it as well.

Jimjams Mon 09-Feb-04 21:30:56

Oh we got this as well. The letter from the school said parents had requested more info. I haven't sent a form back in- it arrived on Thursday and ds1 isn;t in on Fridays. Just ignore it.

philippat Mon 09-Feb-04 21:35:06

write a letter to the chair of govenors www - if they haven't sanctioned it, they should have done, and if they have they clearly need to debate it some more.

School govenors meetings are usually pretty tedious so your letter would be a welcome respite!

Issymum Mon 09-Feb-04 21:37:32

You might want to clarify with the school that they are not intending to forward the slip to the tuition company unless the parents have been given full and clear information about what that company will do with the information on the slip and, on that basis, have given a positive consent for them to do so.

Anything less is likely to be a breach of the Data Protection Act and, given the connection with children and public services, of some interest to the Information Commissioner.

Slinky Mon 09-Feb-04 21:40:29

We had something similar come to us via DD2s nursery.

Can't remember exact company and we were also requested to send form back even if we were not interested.

Needless to say, went straight in the bin!

stupidgirl Mon 09-Feb-04 22:20:37

This is disgusting - I agree with everyone else - just bin it.

sobernow Mon 09-Feb-04 22:55:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WideWebWitch Mon 09-Feb-04 23:02:39

OK, I'm clearly not unreasonable parent from hell then (though head may already think I am, since I've also complained about the PTA view on driving, eek) so I'm going to write a mild 'tell me more about the background behind this decision making please' letter. I am also going to complain to the company concerned and then, if I don't get a satisfactory response from the head and the governors (and let's hope I do) I'll take it up with the LEA and my MP. Twiglett, excellent link, thanks for that. Thank you everyone for your comments but if anyone has anything else to add, please do, saying thank you often seems to be the kiss of death on a thread.

WideWebWitch Mon 09-Feb-04 23:15:41

Sobernow, I've just read a book about that. It's called Jennifer Government, quite entertaining - Kids go to McDonalds or Mattel schools etc. I know, I don't need the confrontation atm but I intend going back to work soon so I might as well go for it before that in as low key non confrontational way as possible, i.e. in writing, politely, and hope I get a satisfactory answer without resorting to anyone higher than the head.

charliecat Mon 09-Feb-04 23:18:05

Similarly my dd had a dance workshop at her school last week and came home with a nice letter saying that the company had kindly been in to the school and all the children had had a great time and heres the www. address and by the way they are holding sessions on, at bla bla bla feel free to come along for a tester session bla bla and it irritated the hell out of me as my dd loves dancing and would probably have loved to have gone to these things but its too far away as i dont drive and it probably costs a bomb.
It is Advertising and its disgusting.
They also do it with the sports centre at half term and numerous companys for no apparent reason. I havent complained YET.

Ange8 Mon 09-Feb-04 23:24:51

My dd brought back exactly the same letter from school - I was outraged and spent ages drafting a letter to the headteacher, expressing my concern about the school not only passing on 'junk mail', but insisting that I sign and return a slip to say that I had read it. Unless this was some sort of statement that the school did not trust my dd to pass on letters to me (and of course I don't think it was), it simply seemed to be a cynical attempt to pressurise parents, who generally like to be seen to be co-operating with the school, into providing details to a private company marketing very expensive tutoring. I was also concerned that the school did not make it clear whether or not the information provided about individual children would be divulged - it seemed to me that the information would be provided for the benefit of the company, as of course my dd's school already knows her name, age, address etc.

Anyway, I can't tell you what the headteacher's response was, because I did not send the letter. My dd was very upset that I didn't intend to fill in the form as requested (she likes to do as her teachers ask - normally a good thing!) so I settled for not replying at all.

I can understand why you are angry - I wish I had asked the head for a reply now.

WideWebWitch Mon 09-Feb-04 23:27:37

Ange8, I've just looked at their website and I'm even more outraged! They are selling one to one coaching but it looks like an expensive load of toss tbh, it really looks like high pressure sales type stuff on their site. I won't post it here as I don't want to give them any publicity. I *am* going to write and actually, the more I look at the leaflet and letter the crosser I become!

Ailsa Tue 10-Feb-04 00:36:13

We've had this as well in the past, but I've never actually sent the slip back. If I remember correctly the school gets a donation from the company for every slip returned whether expressing an interest or not.

bobthebaby Tue 10-Feb-04 02:50:50

I'm a little hazy on details because I've spent the last 4 years working in marketing in NZ (not in anything to do with education BTW) but I would think that they have to be upfront about what they would be doing with your details on the letter or the slip. Anything less would break whatever privacy or data protection law you have in the UK. I would report them to the Direct Marketing Association in NZ, there must be an equivalent in the UK. Getting them fined would be a nice start wouldn't it.

I have occasionally marketed to schools in a sponsorship capacity and I like to think that I was fairly moral and it was clear to the parents what the child got out of my company's involvement without pressure of them to buy our product. I also think its sad that the school is using its roll as a data list.

Batters Tue 10-Feb-04 09:35:52

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

WideWebWitch Tue 10-Feb-04 09:37:44

I've found out this morning that they have also incentivised the *children* to bring these slips back. They get a special certificate (usually for good work) for bringing the forms back. Outrageous, I am apoplectic.

Marina Tue 10-Feb-04 09:38:55

Yes, keep us updated www, I think what the school have done is completely out of order. I wonder how many parents have meekly just filled in the form (eg. quite possibly us if we had received such a communication)? Go gettem.

Carla Tue 10-Feb-04 09:40:23

Good for you WWW. We had this leaflet just before Christmas, funilly enough with the exact same words on our covering letter. I wonder if they issue the heads with a copy of the letter they want sent out? But just what IS in it for the school? Our head is not the sort of person (I think) to want to exploit parents.

Twinkie Tue 10-Feb-04 09:42:13

My goodness I would be the stupid mum who just filled it in and sent it back the next day!!!

I am appaled that they would give out certificates for this when there are far more important communications that I am sure they send out that don't warrant a certificate on receipt!!

I would write to both the school and the Governers and the company and the LEA pointing ou that you do not think this is acceptable - what next coco cola or mars using schools as advertising mediums!!!

tigermoth Tue 10-Feb-04 09:43:31

ditto batters' post! Just for the record, I have not received anything asking for our details even if we were not interested. If I did, I'd be disgusted too! I am really surprised that the school put the letter on headed paper.

www, do you think the company provided a suggested standard text for the letter with advice that the school put it on their headed paper?

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