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Parents' financial contributions to state schools

(16 Posts)
mrsmootoo Sun 30-Mar-14 11:25:49

Has anyone's secondary school asked for a contribution to general funds (books, materials, IT etc)? My eldest left Year 11 last summer (it only goes to 16) and we were asked for a donation. No sum specified. We haven't been asked before, but I thought it might make more sense to ask from year 7 onwards then at least your child gets the benefit. The state 6th form college our eldest then started asked us for £36 for the year.

noblegiraffe Sun 30-Mar-14 11:56:56

They probably didn't ask in Y7 because this is a new thing for the school.

Budgets have been cut horrendously and schools are making cuts and scrabbling for money where they can.

BackforGood Sun 30-Mar-14 16:47:34

ds's school ask parents if they will make a £10 donation each year to school funds. I'm always very happy to - they get loads of use out of the mini-buses for example, which would have been requests for money for transport at Primary, but I don't think it's either 'pushed' enough, or organised enough.
I can't understand why they don't get all parents to sign up to a Standing order when they go along for the transition evening at the end of Yr6.... yes, still voluntary, but I bet they would secure a MUCH higher %, and definitely would get a much better amount in, in the following 4 or 6 years.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 30-Mar-14 16:53:39

Grammar schools in NI all routinely ask for 'voluntary contributions', although they aren't actually voluntary. Usually approximately £500 a year, although some are less, some more.

AnimalsAreMyFriends Sun 30-Mar-14 16:55:43

dd starts at the local grammar school in Sept. With their very first communication to us, they included a direct debit form for a voluntary £40 a year donation....

admission Sun 30-Mar-14 18:16:02

The bottom line here is that no state school can ask for donations and expect them as a matter of course. The clue is in the title it is a donation and is voluntary. OK some schools can make you and potentially your children feel very awkward about the circumstances and it seems rather more like a demand.
Every school has a budget and they are supposed to use that budget for the education of all the children in the school. It is not expected that they start asking parents for donations for thing like paper, pencils, books etc.
Schools are allowed to ask for a donation for trips within certain parameters but again in many circumstance this needs to be a voluntary donation.
As a Chair of Governors I would never allow my school to ask for voluntary donations for anything that was to do with the education of the children, only for school trips. This is about schools controlling their budget correctly and not taking the easy way out of asking parents to cough up funding. I might add that we are in one of the worst funded Local Authorities in the country and some Local Authorities, especially around London, are getting £2000+ per pupil more than my school. All schools are hard up but it is about running the finances properly.
I would ask the school for their policy on school charges and see what it says. Every state funded school has to have such a policy but not necessarily a sixth form college.

AryaUnderfoot Sun 30-Mar-14 20:38:03

The school science department I used to work in (left last year) asked for 'voluntary contributions' for:

- booklets of examination past papers
- breakages

These are things that many people would consider 'unreasonable', but you have to bear in mind that the annual budget for the chemistry department for resources was about £1500. This sum is, in my opinion, laughable; it reflects a general disdain on the part of the head teacher and bursar towards the sciences. Of this, £300 had to be spent on servicing the fume cupboards (pretty essential). That doesn't leave very much for a departmnt where the majority of resources end up down the sink.

Without 'voluntary contributions', class practical work would have ceased.

SoonToBeEaster Sun 30-Mar-14 21:01:47

This is a very interesting thread for me. DD's school, cofe secondary used to have a maintenance grant of £100 per year per child and this was clear upon admissions. This was replaced by another fund to spend money on enrichment and parents were asked to make a contribution of £300 per year. The school then became an academy. We now have an option to contribute £5, £10, and all the way up to £50 per month or more if we would like shock.

I have no problem with the concept of paying a bit more but what is missing is any transparency about what this money is used for. There is no formal report to parents, there are no accounts, parents have no idea of how many parents pay x, y or z or how the money is being spent.

It is disingenuous and increasingly I feel it is very very wrong - especially as the school is operating a differentiated behaviour policy where some girls are allowed to get away with far more than others because they are less privileged whilst other girls have the school coming down with a rod of iron for wearing a skirt an inch too short. Am quickly reaching the view that I'm not prepared to subsidise any activities for girls who refuse to behave decently and for whom there are no clear rules when there is no transparency around the reporting. I could spend £300 entirely on my own dd.

hedwig2001 Sun 30-Mar-14 21:22:24

We have paid a direct debit of £5 per month, since my son started Year 7.

AryaUnderfoot Sun 30-Mar-14 21:37:47

SoonToBeEaster I am, sadly, not at all surprised.

The school I taught at for many years was 'outstanding', but there was an underlying rotten feel about the management of the place that was hard to miss.

Interestingly, it is a CofE academy...

morethanpotatoprints Sun 30-Mar-14 21:43:35

My ds2s school were always asking for money for school funds and buildings and you were expected to give a little which I did.
I didn't support all the other stuff though, so it was fair to pick and choose. Most parents contributed a little, some quite a lot.
This was a voluntary aided CofE school though, the type many would see closed.

AryaUnderfoot Sun 30-Mar-14 21:55:12

VA schools were expected to raise 10% of the cost of capital projects. One argument for the continued existence of faith schools was that they saved the taxpayer money by generating some of their capital funding themselves.

VA converter academies do not have this restriction on capital funding. They often continue to request this 'special funding' from parents but use it to pay for revenue spending on resources.

AryaUnderfoot Sun 30-Mar-14 21:56:47

Correction - VA schools still are expected to raise 10% of capital projects themselves. It is the academies that aren't.

scarlettsmummy2 Sun 30-Mar-14 23:12:10

I don't see what the problem is if you can afford it. I would rather pay extra and ensure my child had everything they need when at school than be in a situation where staff aren't allowed to use the photocopier or arrange certain activities or not have appropriate sports equipment, which is sadly the reality in a lot of state schools.

littledrummergirl Sun 30-Mar-14 23:17:46

We pay �5 a month into a draw every month. If your number is pulled you win �100. Once a year there is an extra draw with a �1000 prize.
There are 100 numbers in each draw, with all proceeds going to the school.
This is easy to administer and has raised enough for minibusses, musical equipment, shortfall on building grants.
The bonus is that we might winsmile

SoonToBeEaster Sun 30-Mar-14 23:22:31

I sniff some common ground Arya. If it has a pub opposite and one to the right I sense the hounds are baying and it won't be long.

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