40% of parents 'asked to donate to schools'

Charity warns that parents are under increasing pressure to pay for clubs, materials and events that used to be free

Tes Reporter

Parents are increasingly being asked to donate money to schools, research suggests

More than 40 per cent of parents have been asked to give money to a school fund, with some making voluntary donations of up to £30 a month, new data suggests.

Charity Parentkind's annual parent survey indicates that the average monthly amount being donated has increased from a reported £8.90 in 2017 to £11.35 in 2018.

A survey conducted online by Research Now highlights that more than two in five (43 per cent) parents have been asked to contribute to a school fund, which is used to ensure all children are able to participate fully in every aspect of school life.

The 36 per cent of parents who said they had donated were asked how much they had given to the school fund in 2018.

Of those, 45 per cent of respondents said they commonly donate less than £10 a month, but 29 per cent said they are giving between £10 and £30 - up from 21 per cent in 2016.

The percentage of parents saying they know how the money is spent has increased from 38 per cent in 2017 to 51 per cent in this year's poll.

Further findings from the research suggest that parents have been asked to help meet a variety of education funding shortfalls.

Parents paying for teaching equipment

This includes 26 per cent of the 1,500 parents surveyed saying they were asked to pay for school clubs that used to be free, and 28 per cent said they were asked to pay to attend events such as sports days and concerts.

More than a fifth (21 per cent) said they were asked to help with the supply of teaching equipment, such as stationery, books, glue pens–- up from 15 per cent in 2017.

Some 12 per cent said they were asked to contribute to essentials such as toilet paper.

Almost half (49 per cent) of the parents said they believed school budget pressures had negatively impacted on their child's education.

Michelle Doyle Wildman, acting CEO of Parentkind, said: "Mums and dads have told us that they are donating more to the school fund and are under increasing pressure to pay for clubs, materials and events that used to be free.

"Not only does this indicate that the impact of school funding shortfalls on families has been underestimated, it also raises the spectre that increasing parental financial contributions may have the unintended consequence of reinforcing and increasing educational disadvantage - driving a wedge between home and school."

She added: "We encourage schools to seek to consult and work with parents on tackling these resourcing issues together so that all children are given the opportunity to achieve."

A DfE spokesperson said its national funding formula is giving every local authority more money for every pupil.

She added: “We recognise though that there is more pressure on schools to do more, which is why we have also taken a number of steps to help them get the best value for every pound.

"Our government-backed deals are helping schools save money on things like utility bills and other non-staff spend." 

The Department said no parent can be required to make financial contributions to a school, and all schools must make clear that any requests for donations are voluntary.

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