Contribution to the school fund(33 Posts)
My elder daughter will start at secondary school (state) in September and the school has written to us to ask her to come in next month for an "interview". They've sent a lot of forms that we have to fill in and a checklist of the things that we must bring in on that day which also includes a £50 contribution to the school fund. There is no mention that this is a voluntary donation and I'm a bit shocked - we can afford to pay it but I think it is bloody cheeky to demand it. Am I being unreasonable?
YANBU, and if it's not made clear that donations to the school fund are wholly voluntary, then it's probably illegal to boot.
You are being completely reasonable, any contribution to the school fund has to be voluntary and if this is not being stated on the form, I would ask for the school's policy on charges and see what that says. A £50 contribution if that is it for the year might be quite reasonable but if it is £50 for the school fund and then £20 for this trip and £20 for art materials etc etc etc then that is completely unacceptable.
However the first thing that you need to be re-assured on is that the school cannot make this financial contribution in any way connected to you keeping the offered school place.
As a school governor I am concerned that this is becoming rather more common practice as a way of balancing the books financially, especially if the money is going into the school fund, which is officially separate from the funding provided for the school. In these days of austerity the schools need to balance their books by suitable changes, not expect parents to be putting their hand in their pockets all the time. Say the school has a 1000 pupil, that is £50,000 of funding the school is getting from its parents every year.
The idea of an "interview" with the daughter is also a bit worrying and I would want to know exactly what was going to be discussed.
I'm not against paying the £50 - I probably would quite willingly if it was explained to me exactly what I am funding, why it were necessary and it wasn't just demanded as if it were an entry requirement (thanks for the reassurance Camel, I didn't imagine her place was in jeopardy but maybe some parents will be worried ). I imagine this letter is going to all the new intake and, while I can afford it, the school has almost 25% FSM so I'm sure that there are plenty that can't. It just seems crass the way it has been phrased and, being a contrary so and so, I'll probably make that point before I cough up.
At the children's current primary school, there is an incredibly busy PTA which raises tons of money each year and I suppose that just isn't such an option when your child gets to secondary and parents take a step back.
This is so wrong as it creates an imbalance. If a parent who contributes generously has a complaint, are they dealt with in the same manner as a parent who doesn't? Their treatment may be exactly the same but nonetheless it raises questions, and for me, goes against the principle of a free education. It's not the same as actively supporting a PTFA. A sad sign of the times IMO.
I appreciate that funding is extremely tight but it is simply not acceptable to not be completely clear that contribution to school fund is voluntary. The OP may not be concerned regarding her child's school place but some parents may feel that they have to pay.
I'm also not a huge fan of inviting the child for an 'interview'. Great to meet with individuals to smooth transition but calling it an 'interview' suggests that this is a process where the child has to perform to certain criteria/expectation.
I would probably also pay the money and would attend the interview but not without having my say about the process!
Mind you, I have heard of a school (state grammar) that suggests a contribution of £60 per month to the school fund. Unbelievable!
I'm boggling at both the £50 and the interview. What else is on the checklist of things you have to bring?
Nothing worrying about the interview at all
I disagree. An interview is NOT a normal part of transition. If it is simply a "getting to know you" session it should not be described as an interview.
And any contribution must be voluntary. They should not imply otherwise. They cannot require a contribution as a condition of admission. A £50 contribution wouldn't be a problem for me but I would refuse to pay on principle if a school approached me like this. If my child's school asks for a voluntary contribution I will happily pay. If they imply it is compulsory I won't.
Phr47bridge I agree totally! We went for an "interview" where my daughter was asked what she liked to do outside school, how her current school deals with naughty behaviour, how much homework she gets, if she plays an instrument... All get to know you kind of questions which is fine... But further on we were "told" that the school asks each family to contribute £100 a year... Then just a pause while she looked at us....in that moment you don't feel you have much choice but to say ok... Which we did and she ticked something off on her paper.... Looking back it was definitely not posed as a question! More of a statement... Which I agree is wrong. From what I have heard from other parents this seems common place though :-/
we would much rather everything was properly funded
The interesting question is how you define "properly funded". There are vast differences in funding per pupil within state schools. A recent study found that there was no link between funding and outcomes. Which isn't to say we should cut school funding to the bone but it does raise interesting questions about what level of funding is actually required.
It should be made absolutely clear that the school fund contribution is voluntary.
But an "interview" is strange. Where on earth do they find the time? Our's is a small secondary, but there are 150-odd year 7s. Even at 15 minutes an interview that's a lot of time. 50ish hours! What school has that sort of spare capacity?
I would say "properly funded" meant where schools did not feel they had to ask for donations
The trouble is that means different things for different schools. Some schools on the lowest funding for pupils don't ask for donations and achieve better results than better funded schools that do feel the need to ask for donations.
Are you referring to the Sutton Report on the most effective interventions
No, I was referring to a study earlier this year which attempted to determine the relationship between funding and results and found that there wasn't one. Can't remember who produced the report but I think it was a major consultancy.
We were given a voluntary standing order pack with all the starting shool paperwork. No suggested amounts, so it could be £1 per months or £1000 per month (for example). I suggested they added it to the newsletter once a year, but they didn't want to seem pushy. It pays for 'extras ' and supporting those who need the funds. The only time I have noticed that they keep a record of who pays was when I was invited for a special viewing of the students artwork (DD doesn't do art).
Thanks, Camel, it never occurred to me that the school might be uncomfortable about asking for it as the way it came across seemed so grabby. I think I will make the point at the, ahem, interview (which, as Tiasmummy described, I am pretty sure will be "What lessons do you like best? Have you got any friends coming to the school from your primary?" etc) that I am willing to pay but I think that in the future it would be better to describe the contribution as voluntary and give a better idea what it will be used to fund.
help struggling pupils buy uniform
Doesn't your LA provide help with the cost of uniform and PE kit?
Would you prefer that voluntary contributions were banned?
Not at all, and I haven't said anything to suggest that. The secondary school I attended years ago (which was very well funded) requested voluntary donations which were nothing to do with helping struggling pupils. I don't have any problem with that. I am against schools requesting voluntary contributions in a way that makes them sound compulsory.
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