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Are schools allowed to demand parents pay for activities in school?

(16 Posts)
wandaabout Sun 18-Dec-16 21:06:32

A new head is taking over my dc's school and I was surprised to see the first communication included a demand for money for a workshop (unspecified) taking place in school hours. There is no option to opt out or explanation of why parents need to pay for it and it can't be run by the usual teachers.

I thought schools weren't allowed to ask for money for compulsory activities taking place in school hours on school premises? Or have the rules changed?

Jojay Sun 18-Dec-16 21:36:00

No they can't. It should be a voluntary contribution, though many schools don't make this clear.

Their Charging and Remissions Policy should be on their website. Take a look.

MissClarke86 Sun 18-Dec-16 21:37:49

They can't, it has to be stated as a voluntary contribution like school trips.

We tell parents it's voluntary, but that without enough contributions it might have to be cancelled. Sounds like blackmail but it's true - schools want to provide enriching experiences for your children but aren't made of money unfortunately.

ROSY2016 Sun 18-Dec-16 21:41:03

our school policy says, any activities during school hours cannot be charged.If charged it should be voluntary.

admission Sun 18-Dec-16 21:57:38

Clearly the new head teacher needs to understand what is and what is not allowed in terms of charging for activities. If it is during school time, the activity cannot be charged for, only a voluntary donation requested.

wandaabout Sun 18-Dec-16 22:06:15

An if a voluntary donation isn't paid?

Would the child be expected to sit doing nothing while the rest of their class who can afford it do the activity?

Wolfiefan Sun 18-Dec-16 22:12:22

I believe if enough parents choose not to pay (and the school can't cover any shortfall) then the event is cancelled.

meditrina Sun 18-Dec-16 22:12:46

Depends

'Voluntary' is code for 'a way will be found if you are seriously broke', not a synonym for "you don't need to pay"

The basic options are:

a) get a payment plan from those who cannot afford full whack in a oner
b)) use pupil premium money
c) use PTA funds
d) cancel the trip

ROSY2016 Sun 18-Dec-16 22:45:48

again ours says except break times activity,any contribution should be voluntary. If parents cant pay or not willling to pay, child should not be exclude from that activity.check your school policy

CotswoldStrife Sun 18-Dec-16 22:48:06

Agree with pp about the 'voluntary' contribution.

The daytime stuff in school is paid for by the PTA here, we fund a workshop/enrichment/extension activity related to an area of the curriculum for each year group.

SmellyChristmasCandles Mon 19-Dec-16 06:17:15

Agree, it should be a voluntary contribution if it's a curriculum requirement. However, if it's a 'fun ' activity, such as a trip to the panto, you can be charged the cost of the trip, but no more. At our school we have had to cancel trips and workshops for lack of contributions as we have no money to subsidise those who choose not to pay. We've also had children left in school when parents have not paid for things like panto trips. We do subsidise PP pupils as long as parents indicate they wish their child to be included.

meditrina Mon 19-Dec-16 14:08:56

"it should be a voluntary contribution if it's a curriculum requirement"

If it is a curriculum requirement, say a geography field trip, then it must be funded by the school.

Other trips can only be charged at cost (though no-one is going to quibble about rounding to nearest 50p) and must be on a voluntary basis.

wandaabout Mon 19-Dec-16 14:17:15

Well, the letter suggested that the payments were a) for activities taking place during the school day at school and b) for curriculum requirements eg geography, history etc.

I expect to pay for trips outside school but not for them to have fancy classes in normal subjects at school.

bojorojo Mon 19-Dec-16 14:38:38

Gosh - I loved my children having an enriched curriculum in school with theatre,
events etc. You sound like a Scrooge, OP.

Schools can ask for voluntary contributions for transport and accommodation costs on curriculum trips but not the teaching. If teaching is enhanced by a 'fancy' lesson in school - great as far as I am concerned. It can bring variety, high quality input and hopefully greater learning. What is not to like for a little bit of money?

WinnieTheW0rm Mon 19-Dec-16 16:48:31

"Schools can ask for voluntary contributions for transport and accommodation costs on curriculum trips"

At the risk of splitting hairs, if the trip us a required part of the curriculum, the school has to pay. That's the law. No charge is allowed in the delivery of the curriculum.

That does not however cover trips that are not absolutely required. For example, seeing good production of your GCSE play is great but not a requirement. A georgraphy field trip, without which coursework cannot be carried out, is a requirement. So the play shouldn't be described as a 'curriculum trip' though the field trip should. And the latter must be paid for by the school.

wandaabout Mon 19-Dec-16 18:28:01

bojorojo - not Scrooge, but poor!

I accept having to pay for non-essential trips outside school but as a JAM, I can't really afford to also pay for bells and whistles in class, if the school should actually be paying.

Undoubtedly, lessons could be much better if parents could contribute financially to getting loads of extra FUN!!! activities - but if I could afford that, I'd just send them private! I can't afford it. And it seems a slippery slope for the school to assume parents can.

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