Schools have always topped up their government funding with donations from parents and carers, this is usually known as the 'school fund'. I remember as a primary aged child taking part in sponsored silences, walks and more, and counting up the cash in the school's oversized whisky jar that we were all encouraged to contribute to.
However, in around 2007 media reports began to appear regarding schools asking parents for regular donations of cash and goods to give extra financial support.
Why has this become newsworthy when it has always happened? Put simply, in recent years many schools have had to dip into their school fund pot to pay for the essentials that were previously covered from their main government funding.
While overall school funding nationally has been protected by the government, costs have increased significantly over the last few years and funding has not kept up with this, meaning schools are struggling to provide the excellent levels of education and care they strive for, while balancing jobs, building upkeep and paying the bills.
Chair of Governors
Schools are funded based on the number of children they have. We find out how much we'll receive and then work out our costs. The biggest being staffing costs including wages, National Insurance and pension contributions. After that the cost of maintaining the school building and paying the utility bills. We then need to buy
We've worked hard over the past few years expand the curriculum, including introducing our enhancement afternoons, and make coming to school more exciting for children. We've also increased the amount of pastoral support we offer, while cutting costs in areas that won't impact upon our children. Our hard working staff have, among other things, bought their own classroom supplies for your children to use, bought books for the school library, spend their evenings and weekends visiting multiple stores to find the best offers on resources we need and invested many hours of their own time to ensure every child gets the best possible education.
This year our costs have increased significantly and we're looking for new ways to raise money in order to protect your children from the impact seen in other schools.
To do this, we need your ideas and suggestions. We're already planning to launch more after school and holiday clubs (which again staff have volunteered to run in their own time) and looking at some other options, but there may be things we haven't thought of. Please use the form on this page to submit your suggestions for events, activities or other fundraising ideas which you'd be happy to support so we can continue to offer the exciting and wide ranging curriculum and continue to grow the pastoral support we can offer.
The national picture
These media reports seem to be coming thick and fast and recently a number of campaigns have been launched to raise awareness of the struggles schools are facing. Teaching unions, Headteacher's groups, school governors and even Ofsted have spoken publicly, and in some cases taken their voices to parliament, to 'lobby' or raise these issues with MPs.
Many schools have asked parents for one-off or regular contributions. Recently reports have been published of schools asking for £20 twice a year upto a request for £1,200 per year from each parent. Some schools have even taken to closing early one day a week to save money.
The curriculum being taught has been reduced, with children learning fewer subjects, having less opportunity for participation in sport, music, drama and other "non-core" areas, and less support for children due to redundancies of teachers, classroom support and pastoral staff.
Upto one in three schools are reported to be spending more money than they receive, something that means the following year they need to make more spending cuts to recoup those losses.
For a long time a group of dedicated parents, teachers and friends of our school have come together as the PTFA (Parent, Teacher and Friends Association) to raise money for the school and help to pay for some items that we otherwise wouldn't have been able to provide.
This has included buying iPads and other IT equipment for our children to use and blackout blinds for classrooms where bright sunshine often meant children couldn't see the whiteboard during lessons, among a number of other contributions.
The PTFA are the volunteers behind events like our recent movie night, stalls at our May Day and Christmas events and the refreshment stall at Parents' Evening among others.
If you'd like to find out more about the work of the PTFA, or help with their fundraising activities, please contact Mrs Winder, via the school office, or pop into one of the regular informal meetings which take place after school where you'll be greeted with a warm welcome, tea and biscuits and no expectation to make a commitment.
We'll update our website calendar when the date of the next PTFA meeting is confirmed.
Contact your MP
Across the country, parents are being urged to "lobby" or contact their MPs to show their concern at the increasing pressure on school funding and ask for action to be taken in parliament to address these concerns. School governors have recently marched upon Parliament to raise their concerns and many Headteachers are planning similar action.
If you wish to contact your MP to ask them to raise concerns about school funding in Parliament then you can find their details below, and following the links will reveal your MPs Parliamentary email address which makes contacting them easy.
If you live in Kirklees (Birkenshaw, East Bierley, Hunsworth) you are in the Batley and Spen constituency and your MP is Tracy Brabin, Shadow Minister for Education.
If you live in Bradford you most likely live in the Bradford South consistency and your MP is Judith Cummins.
If you're not sure who your MP is you can find out by entering your postcode on Parlimament's website.
Do you qualify for extra funding?
Children of parents on a low income may be eligible for extra funding called the Pupil Premium. The money is paid to the school each year and is used to support children's learning.
If you meet the criteria for Pupil Premium your child will also be entitled to receive free school dinners in Key Stage 2 (years 3-6).
You should apply for this if you get any of the following - even if your child already gets free school dinners in Reception or years 1 and 2. If you need help with the application form please pop into the school office for a confidential chat.
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- the guaranteed element of Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
- Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
- Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)
For further information about how schools are funded and media reports about the current concerns on school funding please visit the links below.
Please note that these are links to external websites. We do not control the content of these links, which are provided for information only, and may not agree with all the content raised in them.