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Parents should donate cash to state schools, heads' leader says

A philanthropic culture should be encouraged among parents in a bid to drive charitable donations to state schools, a headteachers’ leader has said.

Brian Lightman (pictured), general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said a “debate” should be had as to whether parents should consider making monthly contributions to schools to help fund more teachers or improve facilities.

The idea comes as Anthony Seldon, master of the £30,000-a-year boarding school Wellington College, recommended in a report yesterday that wealthy parents should be charged up to £20,000 every year for sending their children to the best state schools.

In a research paper for the Social Market Foundation, Mr Seldon suggested households earning more than £80,000 a year should be charged, with families with an income of £200,000 made to pay annual fees of £20,000.

Mr Lightman described the study’s recommendations as “extraordinary”, adding that universally-free state school education was essential to the country’s prosperity.

But the heads’ leader added that the idea of encouraging parents to make regular donations to state schools was worth exploring.

“There is a debate to be had about whether some parents might consider making a financial contribution where they can afford it,” Mr Lightman said. “It should by no means be a requirement; some parents already make donations, but it is not that common.

“Some parents pay very large amounts to educate their children privately, so rather than doing that they could make a contribution that could pay for more teachers at a school.”

He added: “Lots of people donate to charity. If people were willing to make a monthly payment then that could generate a significant amount of money for schools that are already hard pushed.”

In July last year, insurance company Aviva released its school sums index, which showed that the average cost of sending a child through the state system comes to £22,596, with most parents paying £1,600 per child, per year.

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