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Is it compulsory for the parents to buy the books for the school?

(52 Posts)
magan Tue 24-Jul-18 15:42:12

I have 2 children in different years of primary education (in Lewisham). When the children started school I was told that the school provides all the materials (no need for the parents to buy) and it has been like that since. This year the school has sent messages to the parents that it is compulsory for every child to buy a set of books for next year (from an specific publisher they have arranged). Can they really make it compulsory for the parents to pay for the books? Is it now the school responsibility? I was trying to find out in the Lewisham council website whose responsibility is and if the parents can refuse but I don't seem to find anything? It might be that the department of education has changed their policy, but on the other side the school lately has been taking the mickey (getting the parents to pay for absolutely everything) that I just don't know what to think. Does any one know, is there any link in Lewisham website regarding the books this year?

newusername12345 Tue 24-Jul-18 15:49:26

Why can't you just buy the books? Schools cannot really afford to buy everything... I don't see anything wrong with this

soapboxqueen Tue 24-Jul-18 15:51:43

No they can't. Schools are under immense pressure and are trying to recoup money or reduce costs in places and ways they never have before. However, no they cannot demand payment Afaik unless it is extra curricula

madamginger Tue 24-Jul-18 15:53:57

Not the same LA but my dds school asked the parents to buy a set of SATs work books for year 6.
I don’t think it was unreasonable and We obviously got to keep the books and dd could make notes in them.

Norestformrz Tue 24-Jul-18 16:05:10!/schools if you put your school details in the search it will tell you how much less funding the school will receive (seems to be around (£300 in Lewisham).

soapboxqueen Tue 24-Jul-18 16:13:12

No they can't charge you. They can 'offer' things to you if you wish to own them but your child cannot be disadvantaged if you cannot or will not pay if it is a national curriculum activity during the school day.

If it were a set of books for extra tuition before or after the school day, that may be a different thing.

magan Tue 24-Jul-18 16:54:47

Thank you soapboxqueen. I know the schools are under pressure and I don't mind if they send a message to the parents saying that they recommend this or that book and "for parents that would be interested in buying a set" they have the OPTION of buying from the school. But the message says that each child MUST HAVE ITS OWN set of books, the price of this set of 9 books is £XX please make payment to the school as soon as possible (?!?!) What happens if you have 3 children in the school and no money, we didn't have books, we were fine with the notes provided by the school teacher in the class, and we are absolutely fine with the books we can borrow from the library. There is NO POINT AT ALL in the message where it says this is an OPTION for the parents....and the added PRESSURE to ALWAYS buy whether you have the money or not is something I don't really appreciate.

Norestformrz Tue 24-Jul-18 17:15:04

If the school can't afford the books they need to look at alternatives rather than put pressure on parents. Unfortunately things budgets are going to squeezed more and more so things are only going to get worse.

soapboxqueen Tue 24-Jul-18 17:36:02

I agree norest. I suspect there will be more and more schools trying innovative ways to raise cash. More likely just hoping nobody realises that donations are voluntary not compulsory.

BubblesBuddy Tue 24-Jul-18 17:41:16

If they are required for the curriculum, they cannot charge.

However, you probably need to understand that the local authorities no longer tell schools how to spend their allocated money. It’s not their role. They have no policies so no point looking for one. The Head and the Governors have complete control over how the school budget is spent and allocated within the school. I would complain to the Governors because they have agreed the budget and spending decisions for the school and this is a major decision. It is also unthinkable for poor (pp) parents to be asked to do this.

I’m surprised any child needs their own set of books though. Most share text books and schools produce work sheets and put Work on white boards. I would query if these books are necessary. Is the school getting a kickback from sales I wonder? Schools also suggest children go to the local library to look at suitable books.

Cliona1972 Tue 24-Jul-18 20:42:05

When we were living in Ireland , we paid for all our books, the so-called "voluntary contribution", photocopying and art supplies, as well as swimming, school tours and were expected to help with many fundraisers.

BottleOfJameson Tue 24-Jul-18 22:21:14

Obviously they can't really make it compulsory - some families simply couldn't afford it. That said If I could I would buy the books, the school obviously have an inadequate budget so if I could help I would.

admission Tue 24-Jul-18 22:40:16

This is the kind of stupidity by schools that needs to be curbed. They must know that anything to do with the national curriculum needs to be funded from the school budget, so why do they believe that they can demand that parents buy the books, suggesting it is compulsory.

I find this very annoying and it says a lot about the school that they believe that they can ask parents for these books. All schools are under financial pressure but schools need to be creative about what they are spending their funding on.

The first thing I would be asking the school is what was their surplus or deficit at the end of the last financial year and secondly to justify where they believe they can legally ask parents to pay for these books.

BubblesBuddy Tue 24-Jul-18 22:40:57

The Government has an updated charging policy for schools dated May 2018. It clearly states that schools cannot charge for education and that includes books, materials etc during school hours.

The school might be trying to get round this by saying if you buy the books, your child will own them. That’s how they get round charging for art materials and cookery ingredients. This is not standard procedure for books and it is trying to get parents to part with money when it’s a very debatable policy and is skirting round the law. Parents, one suspects, don’t know the law.

Ireland is a separate country. The uk Govt is clear what is to happen in England and Wales. Hopefully other parents will object to this. Do look up the relevant guidance issued by the Govt.

hibbledibble Tue 24-Jul-18 22:45:26

I would see this as very much a case of parents who can afford to pay, should pay.

Schools are under immense budgetary pressure now. I have donated a large amount of books to my DC's school, as well as bought playground equipment.

SarahBeeney Tue 24-Jul-18 23:25:22

We had an email from school about this today. They're 'homework study books' and for both of our kids it will be over £30!
Seems quite steep!
I wonder if it's the same school smile

MidniteScribbler Wed 25-Jul-18 00:39:37

Well at my school, if parents don't pay for the stationery, I end up having to supply it students myself out of my own pocket. But most parent's don't see that, and just think 'I shouldn't have to pay anything'. Schools are struggling, and if you can afford anything, you should contribute.

Kokeshi123 Wed 25-Jul-18 01:20:38

Look, it's either this or get 5,000 emails begging you to fill smarties tubs with bits of change, put your child in yet another stupid sponsored dress-up costume, spend your spare time making plates of cakes that sell for 1/4 the price of the ingredients and then take time of work to hang around in the bazaar selling them etc. etc. x 1,000.

I would just buy the bloody books, honestly. If they feel the need to charge, there will be reasons for this. Be glad you are not in NI, where this is standard for everyone, and piles of books have to be bought!

BubblesBuddy Wed 25-Jul-18 15:38:34

Why do children need homework books costing £30? I am a governor and we don’t have homework books. This is an extra unnecessary expense for parents.

Schools must budget to provide an education for their children. Reading books and text books if used are part of the budget. Every school has something in the budget for this. Parents supply pencils and pens etc, schools supply paper and books. How can not buying a few pens and pencils out of the school budget be a make or break situation for the school. Just don’t replace the teachers lap tops this year!

GHGN Thu 26-Jul-18 09:28:38

Don’t buy it. Workbooks are not necessary nor essential. If required, staff can produce something similar for far cheaper and more appropriate.

AspireAchieve Thu 26-Jul-18 11:48:33

I could say 'lucky you, we have schools having to close completely - but I won't. The state of education is shocking.
I woukd complain, don't let this become the norm for us all. I would follow the schools complaints procedure which will be on the website.

Cuts are happening, schools are struggling but I certainly won't be making up the government shortfall. This government has wasted so much money on the academies programme with no impact on outcomes for children.

Is the school LA maintained or an academy? The complaints procedure should lead to the LA or academy tryst board if this isn't solved satisfactorily by the school.

I despair of increasing privatization and the running down of our education system.

SarahBeeney Thu 26-Jul-18 18:37:22

Our school isn't an Academy,I don't know about the OP's but probably not as not many (if any) in Lewisham are.
It seems very steep for homework books!
I understand that budgets have been squeezed for all. I'd mind less if it was for resources for the school day rather than homework. I bloody hate homework as it is!

BubblesBuddy Thu 26-Jul-18 19:32:41

Our education was pretty shoddy in places and one can definitely see improvements in London so it’s not all doom and gloom. Many LAs had awful schools that let down generations of children. At least some have improved. The budgets are squeezed but many London boroughs have come down from a very generously funded budget per child. More than some of us could dream of!

ChocolateWombat Sat 28-Jul-18 14:43:07

This is unfortunate on lots of levels. Firstly, school are very very hard up for resources. It may well be that they can't afford to buy all the books they would like the kids to have. That said, they cannot REQUIRE parents to buy stuff for the curriculum, although they can RECOMMEND - quite different and unfortunate that they sound like they have made it sound like it is required, unless that is just an interpretation of their wording.

Clearly, some people won't be able to afford the stuff and so the school has to work on that basis and make sure no one is disadvantaged which will mean the school buying some books or photocopying or using online resources. If they cannot buy the books as a school,N they will not be able to teach in a way which requires all children to have their own set of books - they just won't be able to.

I would imagine that either the letter doesn't say the books are required but strongly encourages it, or some kind of junior person has written the letter and sent it without the Head seeing it first. If the latter, the school needs this pointed out to them and needs to send another letter making clear there is no compulsion and explaining if and how the books will be used.

If it is the former and the school are strongly recommending getting the books - then you need to decide if you can and will. Personally, in these days if cut backs, when schools ask parents to buy things like books, I'm of the view that if you can afford it, you just accept that this is the sorry state of school funding and get on and buy it. If you can't afford it, of course you just can't. Stating things are a requirement aside, which was obviously and is obviously wrong, I think we need to understand that schools will and need to make more requests for parents to pay for things - we might not like it, but that is the reality. As long as they only request and have a plan in place so all can access the curriculum, it's just going to be the way of the future. And unless those who can pay do, rather than deciding on principle not to pay or just thinking they will slip under the net and not pay because there is no way to force payment, the what school can provide and the options open to schools in the ways they teach, will just become more spartan, narrow and grey.

I think we're at the point where if you can pay, you need to. Lots of people will think this is unfair that they are paying when others can say they can't afford it and avoid paying, if actually they can afford it - that is simply a reality, but making payment optional for curriculum based activity is the only way to do it to ensure all, including those who genuinely can't afford it have access to the basics. Unfortunately there will probably be more and more of a two tier system with the basics provided for all and everything beyond this only being provided to those who can and will pay.

BubblesBuddy Sat 28-Jul-18 17:49:56

Chocolate: the government updated policy on what a school can charge for in May this year! It’s pretty clear. They have to provide certain things. They are required to manage their budgets to do so. PTAs can help fund shortfalls. They are trying to get round the rules by saying books can be taken home. That’s like art and cookery output for which a charge can be paid. Any school who is asking parents to buy books for exclusive use in school is not acting lawfully. They are conning the parents and need to manage their budgets.

Cuts from well funded to not so well funded, but still better than most, is not a reason to charge parents ilkeagally. Many schools recommend books and library visits but don’t require purchases.

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