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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!

daftdame Thu 18-Apr-13 11:34:38

As others have mentioned already, I think there needs to exceptionally good communication as to how the money has been spent.

The school also should be ready to listen to parents views on how they think the money should be spent and what amount is reasonable (so great that you're canvassing opinions).

I also think a 'hard sell' approach would be wrong, you can not expect parents to want to disclose all their financial details to explain why they do not wish to contribute if they don't. It might be an idea to make the contributions relatively anonymous, with any amount of contribution valued, so there is absolutely no pressure.

However the option to contribute is great, many can contribute money but not their time so it is a way for them to be involved.

CouthySaysEatChoccyEggs Thu 18-Apr-13 02:02:14

I have two DC's in Primary. A £50 charge per child would NOT get paid. I have to save £5 a week all year round to pay for school uniform and shoes and PE kits for my DC's (I also have a Secondary aged DD). There is just no way I could pay this.

I can guarantee that if the DS's school started asking for this (which they no doubt will, they've just become an Academy, and DD's tried asking when they became an Academy), I would write the same letter I did to DD's school reminding them that repeated letters home to those parents that cannot (or choose not to) pay a 'voluntary' contribution breaches a line and becomes harassment.

I CANNOT pay a charge like this - DD's school requests £30, but I get ONE letter a year now, unlike the personalised ones I was getting before when I hadn't paid.

I could pay this charge - but then my DC's would either have school uniform that fits OR school shoes that fit, but not both...

JinxyCat Wed 17-Apr-13 17:28:40

We are asked for a weekly £1 contribution for extras like baking etc, and are constantly in a fundraising merry-go-round (tombolas, raffles, discos), and get asked for additional money for extra activities, e.g. £2 for Science demonstration this Friday.

They are all 'voluntary' although I get text reminders to buy things or pay money.

We are fortunate in that we can afford these charges, and in fact I've just put in extra as I found out that we were the only ones in my son's nursery class who had paid the voluntary contributions for the science demo.
(not saying to show off, I actually think it SHOULD be that way - just like taxes, those who earn more pay more).

My DH vehemently disagreed that I should have done that, he thinks that if no-one else pays then we shouldn't either - but I think that if I didn't, maybe next time they won't organise anything like that which would affect DS1 and DS2 when he goes there. I know we're lucky to have the option.

I empathise with all those families who struggle to find the money for basics, let alone luxuries like 'voluntary' contributions for schools - but maybe a fixed amount would be easier than the constant demands.

No right answer - and it's a tough line for the schools to walk with having to ask for 'voluntary' donations and then chasing for the money.

I like the idea of the honesty box - you might get more than you think.

Roseformeplease Fri 29-Mar-13 23:26:41

Never heard of this in Scotland. I think parents would be shocked...

TheChimpParadox Fri 29-Mar-13 23:18:53

we pay monthly £10 ,with goes towards funding Teaching Assistants. The aim is to have a TA for every class not just one per year group .

YoullNeedATray Fri 29-Mar-13 19:14:01

My school is looking at options having seen the budgets for next year. At the mo there is no regular charge / contribution / fund, but they did ask for £1 towards ingredients for cookery in the most recent D&T topic.

What many parents do not realise is how much the teachers provide out of their own pockets in order to keep things operating. My class ran out of whiteboard pens this term. The school has none left and the class budget was spent by the previous teacher (I took over in Jan). She spent it on card and pritt stick, which is great, but I've just spent my own cash on a stash of dry-wipe pens. I also buy all of the laminating pouches for resources. I noticed at the end of term that we have only 2 red pencils in the entire class and very few green ones (loads of pink though!) so I'll be buying coloured pencils during the hols too.

Year 2 ran of of normal pencils so their teacher went to Staples - she ended up with a list from other staff... all from our own pockets.

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

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

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

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...

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.

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.

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

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...

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.

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

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

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.

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.

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.

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

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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