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Regular voluntary parental contributions to state school

(81 Posts)
allyfe Thu 07-Mar-13 11:42:17

Sadly, funding cuts at our primary school are forcing them to try and find creative ways of getting funding for crucial 'luxuries' such as ITC etc. As a result, the parents are suggesting that ask for a regular (yearly or termly) contribution from all parents. It would be voluntary, set up by standing order, by any parent who can afford it.

Personally, I think it is a very sad state of affairs that this is necessary, but I would rather not get into a debate about the morals of this.

Rather, my question is to any parents/teachers/governors in schools where this already occurs, what sums to do you request, and do you know how many parents contribute? And has it reduced the money that parents also contribute to the PTA? Any advice/suggestions would be welcome. Thanks!

TheSeniorWrangler Thu 07-Mar-13 19:04:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

niminypiminy Thu 07-Mar-13 19:06:48

£50 sounds fine -- all these small amounts sound fine -- until you remember that there are children in every school who come in hungry, and that there are parents who are having to choose between eating themselves and feeding their children, and between eating and keeping warm. And then, when you've remembered that, you need to remember how shaming it would be to be one of those parents who couldn't pay, or one of the children whose parents couldn't pay, and to remember how sharp eyed children are at picking out the poor children, and how cruel they can be.

Voluntary contributions soon become a way in which class and income divisions are yet again marked within school and between schools. As such I think they should be banned, and I would certainly refuse to pay one -- in fact I would be very chary of sending my children to a school that asked for one.

redskyatnight Thu 07-Mar-13 19:10:02

Depends rather on the make up of the school I would think?
At DD's school many parents are saving £1 a week to go towards the £15 school trip in July as they can't afford it otherwise but are determined to pay it.
They do not need any more pressure to put aside money for a "voluntary" annual fee.

jammietart Thu 07-Mar-13 19:22:08

We're not in the UK so it's slightly different system. RC state school, building owned by the Church, staff, resources etc all paid for by the LEA but the fabric of the building not covered so it falls to the school and parish to support that. Stuff like refurb of infant toilets, new roof etc.

jammietart Thu 07-Mar-13 19:22:48

Sorry that was to lougle

scarlettsmummy2 Thu 07-Mar-13 19:28:52

Grammar schools in northern Ireland have this- it tends to range from £400 a year to £2000. And it isn't really voluntary as you wouldn't not pay it! You are invoiced. Not sure of the legalities but I have never heard anyone complain.

ImNotCute Thu 07-Mar-13 19:32:18

Dds classroom has a money box and parents are encouraged to give 50p a week, I've no idea how much they actually get but since we can afford it I give about that.

It's not pushed and is used to fund little extras like baking ingredients to cook with the kids. I'm not sure I'd want to be chipping in like that for computers- surely state school funding ought to be sufficient for IT equipment? But I wouldn't necessarily expect the tax payer to pay for the class to have cupcakes!

LynetteScavo Thu 07-Mar-13 19:37:20

DSs high school ask for £60 per year (or £5 pm) which I don't and never have paid.

His junior school asked for something like £10 a term (I can't remember now) I didn't always pay it, but when DS was receiving lots of extra help from the school, I did give them a decent cheque, becuase I could afford it at the time. They have since stopped asking for contributions, and if even if I wanted to, I don't think I could give the school a cheque....I suppose I could donate to the PTA, but I think that's a different fund.

The school PTA do very well, though, and I give them enough at the school bingo and summer fair. grin

TuesdayNightDateNight Thu 07-Mar-13 23:07:43

We are asked for £10 a term. It's voluntary but they really push it. Reminders constantly, both generally and individually.

In theory it goes towards trips. So far DD has only been to the park across the road so I'm not sure that merited the £10 !

admission Thu 07-Mar-13 23:38:36

To be very brutal about this, whilst no school has enough funding, they do know what their funding is and they should be budgeting appropriately. Could I suggest that if they need to be asking parents for funds that are buying the likes of pens and paper then they need to look to where they should be saving some money in the current budget, not relying on the charity of parents.
There are very clear rules about what can and cannot be charged for and I would question whether some of these schools are actually legal in the way they ask and expect these donations.

scarlettsmummy2 Fri 08-Mar-13 00:19:20

I would have no problem contributing if I thought it was in my child's best interest. My best friend is an English teacher- they can't even give out handouts as there isn't enough money for photocopying. No money for new text books so using ones that are thirty plus years old- that is the reality in many state schools, so how anyone could begrudge a few pounds a month is beyond me. Fair enough if the household is workless, but people can't totally relie on the state in the current economic climate.

BackforGood Fri 08-Mar-13 00:31:37

When asking for money, I think it always helps if people can see what it is being / has been spent on. A note in the newsletter maybe.. "Thanks to all who have contributed to school fund this last half term, we collected £x and have purchased balls and skipping ropes for breaks and lunchtime play" type thing.

MirandaWest Fri 08-Mar-13 00:53:16

I remember school fund when I was at primary school

LePetitPrince Fri 08-Mar-13 01:56:18

One Jewish school I know charges close to £100/month per family, supposedly for Hebrew and security. Not surprisingly it has the lowest FSM rate in the borough.

Optional? Hmmmm, no idea.

Thumbwitch Fri 08-Mar-13 02:10:14

It's standard practice in Australia, and goes to help fund actual crucial items such as stationery etc. Ours is termly (4 times a year), and is "suggested" to be AU$35 for primary children (bearing in mind that it's "voluntary"), although there is a reduction for each child if you have more than one child at the school.

We had a "voluntary" contribution at preschool as well - that was AU$20 per term, again for stationery, paints etc.

AU$35 ~ £24
AU$20 ~ £13

mummytime Fri 08-Mar-13 06:48:29

If you are Overseas then a comparison with the UK/England is not really valid. As the underlying philosophy is different, underlying in the UK has been the idea that all schools should be excellent, and no areas/groups of parents should be able to buy their way to superior facilities/schooling. If you wanted that you had to go private.
Of course the government is turning its back a little on that, and with free schools and some of the funding opportunities for Academies, there is more flexibility. However, enforced/virtually mandatory parental contributions are not allowed; just as all contributions for mandatory school trips have to be "voluntary".
My DCs school helps its funding a lot by also: training teachers, TAs, school support staff, even cover supervisors (which they don't use themselves).

Thumbwitch Fri 08-Mar-13 08:49:41

Perfectly "valid" to post to show how much we are charged, thank you mummytime! IF the UK plan to move in the same direction as Australia, then people might as well see the comparison.

mummytime Fri 08-Mar-13 10:25:08

Sorry Thumbwith my terminology might have been clumsy. I don't think the UK is planning to move in the same direction as Australia, just as even nice MC schools do not have PTAs that raise the £1000s that US ones do.

Its just like English school parents would be horrified if asked to buy Textbooks - like they do in Ireland and France.

Thumbwitch Fri 08-Mar-13 10:41:49

High school children in Australia have to buy their own textbooks as well - but not Primary. However, anyone who gets any kind of payment (Child tax credit etc.) from the Govt here gets a subsidy towards school costs, so it kind of balances out.

I fear that the Australians are rather taking their cues from Mr.Cameron et al at the moment - our Liberal (AKA Tory) Premier of NSW has just announced huge cuts in funding for schools, health, welfare, disabled programmes, old age care etc. So I can imagine that the school cost subsidy will go soon enough.

allyfe Mon 11-Mar-13 14:22:53

Sorry for coming back to this a little late, but thank you all so much for your helpful/informative comments. It surprises me how common it is. But is very useful information. At the school there is a bit of 50/50 split of those for and against.

allyfe Mon 11-Mar-13 14:24:08

Admissions, the question about the budgets is an important one. It is an issue which the parents are trying to help with/address at the same time. Does anyone know whether Governors meetings are generally open?

admission Mon 11-Mar-13 14:33:56

In theory any governing body meeting is open as long as the subject is not deemed confidential, because it is for the governing body to allow any person to attend the meetings and any GB that refused entry to a meeting would just be storing up trouble for the future.
Allyfe I would have real concerns if it is the parents who are trying to help address budget issues. That is clearly something that the senior leadership team and the governing body should be resolving and if it is taking the parents to get something moving then that says there is considerable doubt whether the SLT or GB have the capacity to make the right decisions.

Moominmammacat Mon 11-Mar-13 15:22:45

We do it at comprehensive ... £100 per child per year.

lesmisfan Mon 11-Mar-13 16:42:30

Lepetitprince. Try £100 per child per month not per family or even more for some Jewish schools. It covers Jewish studies staff & materials and security staff.

gazzalw Mon 11-Mar-13 16:58:06

At DS's super-selective we pay about £25.00 per month hmm which was a bit of a shock and doesn't entirely go unnoticed out of my monthly salary. It felt churlish to say no but have to say it's a bit of an 'ask' in these tight economic times.

I think the main beneficiaries are the sixth formers who do more than three A Levels - fine and dandy for those whose DSs do sciences etc...but in a way its subsidising other people's children. DS is already showing more of a leaning towards the Humanities so I am already starting to think that we are not investing in our own son's future but other people's children.

It's a difficult one though. Know at DD's primary school there is one particular year group where the parents are just downright awkward about paying for anything from donations for mufti day to school trips to visiting theatre etc..... I get the feeling that the payments the rest of the years make subsidise them and it does annoy - particularly as I don't think for most it's really about the money

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