Friday, 15 December 2017

Parents back schools' plea for money towards basics

Parents back schools' plea for money towards basics

PARENTS say they are happy to pay towards basics at their children’s schools.

The governors of Robert Piggott junior and infant schools have asked parents for a donation of £1 a day towards stationery and books, the equivalent of £190 per child over the school year.

They blame changes to schools funding and say the extra money will allow them to maintain small classes and provide “the best quality teaching”.

Lucinda Bryers, chairwoman of the schools’ parents’ association, said: “The association and the school share the view that we should attempt to maintain the current standard of schooling in what are increasingly difficult financial times in the education sector.

“This is not the first school nationally or in the local area to reach the same conclusion.

“The voluntary donations only help the school to meet current expenditure levels.

“The association continues to run a calendar of fund-raising and community events.

“Over the course of the year the money raised from these is used to enhance the education of the children, such as with the iPads funded last year. Education of the children, both in the curriculum and as individuals, continues to be the focus of the school.

“It is hoped that until the national funding position improves this focus can be achieved to the same high standard through the support of the parents and wider community.”

In a statement, the schools’ governing body said: “Like many schools, we are experiencing rising costs in the face of reduced funding.

“We have had to make tough choices over the last few years to ensure we continue to provide the same high-quality education for our children and still balance our budgets.

“Following consultation, some parents requested guidance on making voluntary contributions.

“While committed to the principle of state-funded education, we have now reached the stage where, like many other schools in the country, we need to ask parents and the community to consider making voluntary donations to help meet the predicted shortfall in funding.

“This decision has not been taken lightly and our financial situation will continue to be carefully monitored by the governing body.”

The request for money was made in a letter to parents by Caroline Meader, who chairs the governing body.

She wrote: “We have been working with parent volunteers, governors and the teaching staff to develop a funding strategy and implementation plan.

“One of the elements of this plan was to ask parents and the community to consider making donations to help meet the predicted shortfall in funding.”

She said the voluntary contributions would go towards:

• Consumables such as glue, pens, pencils, exercise books, paper, tape and paint.

• Curriculum resources, such as maths text books, reading books, tools, software, science equipment and musical instruments.

• Maintaining current levels of support staff, for example, teaching assistants.

Parents can make their donation as a one-off payment of £190, three payments of £64 for each term or a monthly payment of £16 by direct debit.

Mrs Meader said: “We would like to suggest that parents donate £1 per school day for each child to help the schools through this funding crisis.

“All donations, however large or small, will be gratefully received and will help us to continue to maintain the current provision and excellent standard of education for every child.”

The schools say they have suffered a decrease in government funding over recent years at the same time as the cost of staff has risen.

They have already cut back on expenditure by renegotiating contracts with service providers and reducing staff training and outlay on supplies as well as sharing staff.

The schools have also attempted to bring in more money by renting out areas of the schools for external events.

The school is in the Maidenhead constituency of Prime Minster Theresa May, who pledged during the election campaign last year that all children would have “the support they need”.

Minister for school standards Nick Gibb has said that the new national schools funding formula will “end disparities”.

But shadow education minister Angela Rayner said: “While I welcome any money going into schools, it doesn’t even paper over the cracks.”

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