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Can you claim your money back?

If you're buying resources to add to your own personal stash of useful goodies to take with you from school to school, then you have to pay for them yourself. However, if you're buying items that are going to get used up in the classroom - reward stickers, for example - then you may be able to claim the money back from the school. Students often worry about bringing up the subject , so we asked Gerald Haigh, a specialist in school management, for a few tips on handling this tricky subject. He made the following points:

* Ask yourself do you really need these resources? Can you borrow the item from college? Does it already exist in school? It's worth asking your head of department if there's some way of circulating a request for a specific item around the school.

* If the item doesn't exist in school or at your college then don't worry about asking, it's not something that's going to be held against you. Talk about what you want to do with the class, rather than barging in on the head asking for a new "digital microscope, now".

* Think in advance about what resources you need. Do that and hopefully you won't find yourself nipping over to WH Smiths on a Saturday afternoon to buy reward stickers.

* If a school gets worked up about the cash, let your training college know. Tell them you felt you needed this item and you weren't able to claim for it.

* Ask other staff what they've claimed for successfully, as this will have set a precedent in the school.

* There are basics teachers need to take from school to school. Put your name on such items and guard them with your life.

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