Parents are being asked to pay for the most basic of items for their child’s school – including toilet paper – to help with the funding squeeze, a new survey has revealed.
Nearly a third of parents have been asked to supply teaching equipment like stationery and books – and almost a fifth have been asked to provide essentials like toilet paper, a PTA UK survey has found.
The new findings shine a light on the increasing burden being placed on parents as schools struggle to provide the same facilities and opportunities on squeezed budgets.
The charity’s survey, of more than 1,500 parents, also revealed that around a quarter had been asked to give regular financial contributions or to help with school maintenance activities.
And more parents (42 per cent) had been asked to donate to the school fund this year than last year (37 per cent).
There has also been a rise in voluntary contributions valued at between £10 and £30 a month – with 26 per cent donating this amount this year, compared with 21 per cent in 2016, according to the survey.
Michelle Doyle Wildman, acting CEO of PTA UK, said her organisation has noticed a rise in parents having to contribute to supplies such as stationery, books and toilet paper. She said: “There is a growing number of examples of PTAs being asked to foot the bill for ‘borderline basics’.”
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “This takes us to the very edge of what state education should be doing, if we are starting to ask parents for [toilet paper]. I think parents would be shocked at the thought that the funding crisis is having such a negative impact.”
The findings come as more than a fifth of teachers in a separate Tes-NEU teaching union survey said that their school had asked parents to pay for books, art materials and design-technology supplies.
'School leaders don't like it'
The poll also found that more than two-thirds of teachers said their school had asked parents to pay for school concerts and sports events in the past year.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT headteachers’ union, said: “It doesn’t surprise me that the parents are beginning to feel the pinch and the pressure.
“And school leaders don’t like it. They are forced into a position of having to balance their books as there simply isn’t enough money in the system."
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “No parent is required to make a contribution to their child’s education. The rules are clear on this and no policies have been introduced by this government to allow schools to charge for education provided during school hours and this includes the supply of any materials or equipment.”
This is an edited article from the 22 September edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here