A school has launched a Pounds 20,000 fund-raising drive, reports Esther Leach.
It was an idea headteacher Joyce Worsfold thought just could not work: selling enough raffle tickets to raise Pounds 20,000 to pay for a teacher at her small, hillside school in Huddersfield.
But before long she was carried along with the swell of support from parents and governors. The school is used to fund-raising, and has accepted cash given by parents and local businesses, but usually to pay for resources such as information technology and books.
This, their most ambitious project yet, was altogether different. "A parent came to me with the idea of raffling a car," said Mrs Worsfold, 52, head of Kirkburton C of E Infant and Junior School for the past two years.
"But to be honest we were all a bit dubious about the idea. How could we raise that kind of money among just 80 families whose children go to our school? But we have had support from everywhere. We've even sold tickets to someone in Holland who read on the Teletext news what we were doing."
The school, which has 105 pupils, plans to raise Pounds 20,000 by selling 20,000 Pounds 1 tickets for a new Pounds 8,500 Citroen AX Spree.
The car is being bought from a local dealer at a reduced price of Pounds 5,000, which has been almost raised already through business donations.
"It is sad that we have to do this, but we just don't have enough money in our reserves to pay for another teacher," said Mrs Worsfold. "We have the equivalent of three and a half teachers, including myself, with classes of 35 of mixed ages and two spare classrooms.
"One of the spare classrooms is now a library but the other is empty because we don't have enough staff. Last year we had classes with 25 children in each, it was ideal. But it was the last increase in teachers' pay that made the difference to us.
"We had to let one of our teachers go, who has now been redeployed by Kirklees Council, which has a policy of no redundancies. There is no point in blaming the Government or the local authority because that doesn't help the children.
"We feel so passionately that children should be taught in reasonably-sized classes that we don't mind standing outside the local supermarket selling raffle tickets.
"We have grown more and more to rely on fund-raising to pay for school equipment such as our computer and books. And we are not talking about luxuries."
Last year, the school raffled a holiday and a mountain bike to raise Pounds 1,000. Mrs Worsfold said funding for schools was allocated on the number of pupils on the roll and it was hoped that with an extra class more children could be taken in.
"That way there will be no need for another raffle next year," she said. The raffle will be drawn in November, but it is hoped a new teacher will be in school by September.