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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!

Astley Mon 11-Mar-13 17:37:52

I would pay any amount up they asked if everyone did the same. But I resented paying at nursery when half the parents didnt.

HappyMummyOfOne Mon 11-Mar-13 18:37:59

We dont have this but would gladly contribute to assist the school. Agree with Astley, it should be all who pay not just some as everyone benefits.

notapizzaeater Mon 11-Mar-13 18:47:06

I'm a govenor so I see the budget and tbh it covers "vanilla" school but we don't want our children to be taught vanilla - we want colours ! The teacher could talk them through a science / cooking lesson but its so muc better if they actually do the lesson but he budgets just will not cover it. Lots of teachers at our school fund these themselves rather than the kids missing out.

LatteLady Mon 11-Mar-13 19:52:05

I am the Chair at an inner city school and have been involved in both denominational and non-denoninational schools. Schools of a religious nature do not receive the same amount of budget as a non-denominational school. It is up to the governors to collect these funds in religious schools which is why they are known at Governor's funds.

The only time that you can dictate how funds are spent is when they are donated by your Parent and Carer's group.

You cannot make the giving of these monies compulsory, these are state schools, you can request payment but you must not hassle parents as this will be seen by Courts as Harrassment.

At the Catholic school we asked for a £10 per child per term donation, with a cap of £50 per family per year spread across the year... it was a Catholic school!

Frankly OP, I am delighted that £50 in September is not a struggle for you, but honestly, you have no idea what struggles other people have with their budget whilst keeping up appearances in front of you. As a child my mother would not claim FSM for me, lest I be bullied or set apart from the others... little did she know how much I worried when I saw her totting up columns of figures trying to make our household budget balance.

So, £50 is too much... try the honesty bar approach... you may get more than you think.

Finally, ask for a copy of the budget, it will be given to your governors each term, you are entitled to see all approved minutes and papers unless there is something on there which indicates personal information about a member of staff or child, in which case it can be redacted. A budget should should not do this as salaries for staff will be bundled.

admission Mon 11-Mar-13 22:21:53

Sorry Lattelady but the only difference in funding for faith schools is around capital budgets. Any faith school will get exactly the same amount of school budget funding as any other community school if they had exactly the same pupils and are in the same LA.
When it comes to capital works to do with the building then yes the school or the diocese has to raise 10% of the costs but not on the general funding for the school.

fuckwittery Tue 12-Mar-13 22:54:30

Dd goes to a voluntary aided catholic school and we contribute 15 quid a term. Can't remember if a figure was suggested we set up a standing order when dd1 was in nursery. I don't think it matters whether its a contribution to capital budgets or funding for the pupils, they still need to raise additional funds. The Parents Association seems to do lots of fundraising activities which fund extra school trips and equipment for the children. I'd much rather contribute extra cash than feel constantly guilty for not bringing in cakes and things for the tombola but that's because I'm currently cash-comfortable and time poor! I can see there's a social side to the fund raising as well.

fuckwittery Tue 12-Mar-13 22:58:13

50 quid every sept was not the OP's idea btw latte lady and a couple of others who've picked up on this suggestion - was a different poster

GwendolineMaryLacey Tue 12-Mar-13 23:04:14

£30 per year per child here, plus £25 swimming fund. Wouldn't mind so much but there is a request for money every single week. This week there has been a film night for a fiver and a house day where all children need 'pocket money' to join in the activities.

cece Tue 12-Mar-13 23:07:21

I pay £3 per month DD to my DC Junior School and the same amount to the Secondary school.

marriedinwhiteagain Wed 27-Mar-13 21:44:18

DC's CofE school asked for voluntary contributions because of the maintenance grant. It was a fantastic school and met everything it promised and we were happy to pay and donate some more. It was a voluntary payment and £90 per annum per child was suggested.

DD went to a cofe secondary school which used to be in the top 100 and most sought after. A the end of year 8 the governors requested a 300% increase in the voluntary contribution. The school had not fulfilled the promises made at admisssions and we had already decided to transfer dd to another school.

Had she stayed there I wouldn't have paid the increase. I think parental contributions in the context of money form part of a contract and if schools are not fulfilling their part of the bargain they cannot expect parents to donate money they are neither statutorily nor contratually obliged to give.

Had dd's school fulfilled the promises made at admissions we would happily have paid £3k rather than £300. Sadly it fulfilled no promises at all and as far as I am concerned in doing so forfeited the right to request money for nothing.

Periwinkle007 Thu 28-Mar-13 10:05:42

I think almost all Church schools have to do this as they are classed as voluntary aided. I am not sure what percentage of funding they do or don't get but ours is for the building fund which the local diocese control. so we are asked to contribute £50 a year in 10 £5 direct debits or in blocks depending on circumstances. that is per family not per child and the school has to contribute x amount a year to the diocese who then give much more back when building work is needed.

At first I was a bit put out because I hadn't realised and I thought it was a bit much for a non private school but now I understand why then I don't mind. We can afford to pay £5 for 10 months of the year and as my children are only just starting and lots of work is going on then they will get the benefit of all this money too.

our PTA is entirely separate and raises money throughout the year in different ways and then makes up shortfall if required. Unfortunately this is often the case so money that could have been spent on books has to go to the building fund but thats the way it is. there isn't an endless supply of money I suppose. If a family genuinely can't afford it or can only afford a £5 contribution then I would hope it would be understood and their small contribution accepted gratefully. In quite a few cases where people don't pay though I suspect there are a minority of families still able to have nice holidays etc unlike us whilst enjoying the new buildings they haven't contributed towards whilst other families really struggle and try to contribute.

I think if a school was to introduce it then they should make it very clear to parents exactly how it would all work and where the money would go, if excess money what would it be put towards, try not to put parents under pressure as often the families with the least are the ones who then go out of their way to try and help pay things like this so it must be clear it isn't compulsory but is hoped for. Very hard situation for schools as funding really just can't cover everything we all naturally want our children to have access to.

RegularVoltaire Thu 28-Mar-13 10:34:05

I feel so ignorant about this. I had no idea people were being asked to pay for their child's state education other than adhoc fundraising or the yearly contribution for voluntary aided faith schools. I'm genuinely shocked.

We have fund raising events regularly throughout the year, some for school funds and some for Christian charities. We are constantly asked for voluntary contributions (which most emphatically are not voluntary!) for school trips and for visitors into school, but we are not asked for voluntary payments to the school through standing orders.

£50 per child per year in September would kill me. With 3 dc and 3 lots of uniform, there's no way I could afford this.

I would be looking for a different school.

Periwinkle007 Thu 28-Mar-13 11:07:43

admission is that true that voluntary aided only have a difference in funding for buildings etc? I was under the impression that it was more complex than that. I know they get the same funding re teacher but I thought other funding was different. certainly the voluntary aided schools round us have fewer IT facilities, fewer and older books etc than the state schools and rely on the PTAs much more heavily than the state schools appear to. Mind I don't claim to know much about it - that was just the impression I received from looking round local schools and friends kids going to them

Periwinkle007 Thu 28-Mar-13 11:49:39

yep admission is right

Voluntary-aided (VA) schools are maintained schools and often, but not always, have a religious character. These schools are eligible for capital funding by grant from the Department. These schools are paid on a similar basis to other categories of school, but the governing body must usually pay at least ten per cent of the costs of capital work. Responsibility for work to VA school premises is shared between the school's governing body and the LA. In simple terms, the LA has responsibility for the playing fields and the governing body are liable for all other capital expenditure.

My DS's VA church school asks for an annual voluntary donation of £15 / family for maintenance of the buildings, for which they claim Gift Aid. It's been £15 / family for the past 10 years.

SunflowersSmile Fri 29-Mar-13 06:54:51

This simply would not work at our primary. People struggle with money and school would be seen as scrounging.
PTA has to be careful how much it charges for discos and Bingo etc for the children let alone asking for money as donation to school.
Nursery does have a tin where if you feel able a £1 every half term suggested to pay for cookery ingredients etc. No pressure at all to put anything in and certainly no tin rattling.

sashh Fri 29-Mar-13 07:11:05

So what is going to happen when benefits are paid as vouchers instead of cash?

amidaiwish Fri 29-Mar-13 10:00:10

All faith schools have this iirc. They have to fund 10% of the maintenance etc costs themselves so we have an annual £30 per child payment. It is voluntary but not really iykwim, you have to give a good reason for not paying it.

ByTheWay1 Fri 29-Mar-13 10:35:33

Wow - have not heard of this at our schools - and we are only over in the South West.... Would not really be happy to pay for school stuff.
We have the usual fetes and discos etc - they raise money for specific stuff, but our school does not seem to "go without" anything, we have an active PTA, we get asked to bring in any books we have finished with, board games we have finished with etc...

parents tend to give time rather than money..... we painted the library (a local firm donated the paint), planted round the playground etc.. - the PTA put on a barbie and we all bring a plant and/or a spade/paintbrush/hammer and nails (and our own beer)

the governors enter EVERYTHING in the local papers/supermarkets that give the school money.... we get £thousands from these sources, but no - have never been asked for a regular donation - and to be honest would be a bit hmm about it if we were...

BTW, is yours a voluntary aided faith school or a voluntary controlled one? That's the difference.

Elibean Fri 29-Mar-13 11:35:37

It was suggested at dds' primary at one point. I was mostly against it, on the basis that those who can't afford it feel pressured even if it's 'voluntary' - it would be yet one more divider between groups of families.

I would be fine with a system whereby parents could make donations easily, some sort of standing account thingy with a link on the website for example, but not any regular request for 'voluntary annual contributions'. No, no, no.

Elibean Fri 29-Mar-13 11:36:55

But then, I get quite shock by the local primaries that throw PTA balls with ticket prices of £60+ per person, too. Half the parents babysit for the other half's children, and even though they may get a shiny new playground out of the proceeds - not sure the social divisiveness is worth it. There are other ways of fund raising.

ByTheWay1 Fri 29-Mar-13 13:58:54

I haven't a clue what type of school ours is, just it's not a faith school - bog standard ordinary state school with governors - whatever that counts as...

Floggingmolly Fri 29-Mar-13 18:40:26

Ours are: Primary = £75, Secondary = £120. They are voluntary added schools, though.

BTW, so probably not VA then, as they are usually faith schools where the Church has a hand in governing and funding. Hopefully you'll never be asked to make a donation to the Governors, then. smile

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