Parents pay up for pencils

18th June 2004 at 01:00
Parents have donated hundreds of pounds to a Leicestershire primary after its head last week asked families for up to pound;50 each to pay for books, pens and papers.

David Mills, head of Kegworth county primary said: "This is not what we wanted to do, and it is not what we should be doing. But if we don't get more money pupils will have to bring in their own books and pencils."

Leicestershire receives less funding per pupil from the Government than anywhere else in the country - pound;3,091, compared with a national average of pound;3,514.

Kegworth primary is pound;10,000 in debt and Mr Mills said that without the extra cash, basic teaching equipment will run out.

"By September I will have run out of money if I have to provide cover for staff illness. That means pupils will have to provide their own materials," he said.

If every family of a child at the school gave pound;50 more then pound;7,000 would be raised for the school.

"Most parents are sympathetic to our plight, but they are not happy at being asked to pay for something which they already pay taxes for," said the head of the 153-pupil school.

The idea for the appeal came after two parents offered donations to help out.

Margaret Morrissey, from the National Confederation of Parent Teacher Associations, said: "You can't condemn what the head is doing. My only fear though is that some parents may feel stigmatised and think they're letting the school down, if they can't afford to give anything. It is the Government who should be giving, not the parents."

A spokeswoman for the Department for Education and Skills said the Government had put more money into schools, but acknowledged last year's funding difficulties.

"Schools are free to raise additional funds if they wish," she said.

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