Education news

Parents in north more likely to be asked to donate to school funds

34 per cent of parents reported donating to the school fund in 2017

PARENTS in the north are substantially more likely to be asked to contribute to school funds than those elsewhere, a new report has found.

Three quarters of parents in Northern Ireland said they would be asked for money compared to England (42 per cent) and Wales (24 per cent).

The poll by PTA UK, a charity that supports parental participation in education, showed there were increasing concerns about the cost of sending children to school.

More than three quarters (78 per cent) of parents believe the cost of sending their child to state school is increasing with more than half (55 per cent) agreeing this is a concern.

The report pointed out that budget cuts were a "pressing issue" in the north. There is £24 million less in the system in 2017/18 compared to 2016/17.

There are also rising cost pressures affecting numerous areas including teaching and non-teaching staff pay, special educational needs and essential maintenance.

Key results showed parents were worried about the rising costs of sending their children to school, revealing:

:: Overall, half of all respondents were worried about the cost of school trips

:: On average nearly half (48 per cent) worry about the cost of uniforms

:: Nearly a quarter (23 per cent) worry about the cost of school meals

:: The cost for technology, (tablets, internet access, laptops), as well as materials/equipment for music, art and sports are also a cause for concern

Further findings revealed that more parents (42 per cent) have been asked to donate to the school fund compared to last year (37). There were significant regional variations, for example, six in 10 parents in London compared to only a quarter in the East Midlands reported being asked to contribute to their school fund.

The percentage for Northern Ireland was 75.

Michelle Doyle Wildman, Acting CEO of PTA UK, said parents had always contributed to schools, whether through voluntary contributions, via their PTA or by volunteering their time or skills.

This looks likely to continue. Their support helps give every child the best possible educational experience and so it's important parents have a say in what goes on in their child's school," she said.

"Parents are reporting that they are contributing more to provide the essentials which many expect to be provided by the state. If this is a growing trend, then it's crucial that schools work in partnership with parents to address their specific concerns, taking their views into account when prioritising difficult funding decisions, and exploring realistic alternatives with them, not in isolation.

"We know from our research that the overwhelming majority of parents (82 per cent) want to support their child's school, for example through a parent group or volunteering and over a third (39 per cent) said they would consider getting involved despite never having done so in the past."

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