Parents 'asked to pay for text books by schools'

Book There are rules governing what schools can ask parents for

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Many parents are being asked to make voluntary contributions to the cost of text or revision books, a survey says.

The Association of Teachers and Lecturers survey of 500 staff members in English, Welsh and Northern Irish schools found 26% of parents were asked for contributions for such items.

According to the survey, in 30% of cases, if parents cannot pay, the school makes up the difference.

But 43% of staff fear such requests put some pupils at a disadvantage.

There are strict rules about what schools can ask parents to contribute to.

Department for Education guidance says: "Nothing in legislation prevents a school governing body or local authority from asking for voluntary contributions for the benefit of the school or any school activities."

'Optional extras'

It adds: "When making requests for voluntary contributions, parents must not be made to feel pressurised into paying as it is voluntary and not compulsory."

The guidance also makes clear that schools may not charge for any education that is part of the national curriculum, but that it may charge for some activities known as "optional extras", for example extracurricular sporting activities.

The survey also suggests 90% of schools ask parents to contribute to the cost of school trips and activities related to the curriculum.

But with these sorts of contributions 82% say their school will make up the difference where families cannot pay.

The survey's respondents also say parents and carers are often expected to make voluntary contributions in a range of other forms, rather than money.

Alison Sherratt, president of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers: ''Budgets in schools are tight''

Some 87% say contributions are sought for fancy dress and charity days, 78% mention cake or baking sales, 66% say their school asked for donations towards tombolas or raffles, and 48% say they asked for food for pupils' parties.

Dr Philip Dixon, director of ATL Cymru, said: "The stark reality is that the budget squeeze means schools and colleges are increasingly forced to ask parents to help pay for resources and activities that support the learning of their children.

"Schools and colleges want to provide a wide range of activities to broaden their pupils' horizons. Voluntary contributions are a growing demand on parents. We are concerned about those parents who can't pay.

"We don't want their children to miss out. More needs to be done to ensure that a child's education does not depend on the income of their parents."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 545.

    We are asked for multiple donations from our daughters school.
    Thank god we have jobs,but we know of parents who have lost theirs and still the schools persist begging constantly for more.
    If this is things getting better under the tories then what next bring youre own bandages to hospital.The tories are destroying the public sector.That includes schools,nhs.Things most people use.

  • rate this

    Comment number 482.

    It cost us a small fortune to provide all the stationery and special folders for our children's years at school and especially GCSE and A level presentation folders. We could hardly afford it even with one full time working parent. It was ridiculous. To have to find money for text books is a crime - that is what the Govt should be paying for. They pay teaches badly too!

  • rate this

    Comment number 447.

    Not really a story. Much of this has been going on for years. Our school had a nice compromise scheme where a 'deposit' was paid for the more expensive textbooks which could be redeemed at the end of the year. This covered the cost of damaged books, taught responsibility and ensured we could have the most helpful texts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 435.

    They are asking for a voluntary payment so there's no real issue here. If you can't afford it, you won't be forced to pay!
    In any case, I agree with hepdoc (106). This is 2014 and most children are still using old fashioned text books. Yes, kids still need to be taught the 3 Rs but let's embrace technology. Issue children with a tablet & encourage them to learn IT skills at the same time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 319.

    This is the thin end of a very worrying wedge. My family in Canada who are relatively well off find the purchase of stationery etc. at the beginning of the school year a huge strain on their finances.


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