You want your child to have lavatory paper at school? Pay for it

“Teachers and parents are increasingly propping up schools with donations and buying essential items such as lavatory paper, surveys show.

Direct debits of up to £1,000 a year are being set up by some school staff to help pay for classroom equipment.

A survey by the Times Educational Supplement (TES) and the National Education Union suggested that 94 per cent of teachers had spent their own money supporting their schools.

Basics such as teabags for the staffroom and paper towels were also being withdrawn by school leaders, the survey of 1,800 teachers claimed.

Stationery items, books, art materials, emulsion paint and storage equipment for classrooms were among the items bought by teachers.

A rising number of parents are being asked to contribute cash to schools. Of 1,500 parents surveyed by the PTA UK association, 29 per cent said that they had been asked to supply teaching equipment, such as stationery and books, the TES reported.

Forty two per cent of parents had been asked to donate to the school fund compared with 37 per cent last year. There had also been a rise in voluntary contributions in the category of £10 to £304 a month, with 26 per cent donating this year compared with 21 per cent last year.

Michelle Doyle Wildman, acting chief executive of PTA UK, said: “Parents are a silent army supporting our schools to give every child the best possible outcome in their education.

“We are concerned that teachers and parents are reporting that they are contributing more to provide the essentials which many expect to be provided by the state.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Our new fairer funding formula will replace the outdated funding system which saw our children have very different amounts invested in their education purely because of where they were growing up.”

Campaigners have challenged the fairness of this formula after a separate report indicated that 88 per cent of schools faced real-term cuts in funding between 2015 and 2020, despite the government’s pledge of an extra £1.3 billion.

Jo Yurky, of the parent-led campaign group Fair Funding for All Schools, said: “The national funding formula has become a joke already because there isn’t enough money in the system to go round. The vast majority of schools around the country continue to face a bleak financial situation.”

Source: Times, paywall

3 thoughts on “You want your child to have lavatory paper at school? Pay for it

  1. Not that I support the funding cuts for schools but as an ex-teacher I would like to comment that some of the ‘essentials’ are of fairly recent introduction.
    Even until the late ’90s staff provided their own tea and coffee either individually or through a club, just as many staff did in private businesses. I would be surprised if that didn’t still happen in some schools.
    If paper towels are being withdrawn it can only be because other ways of drying hands have been provided, it is not possible to stint on hygeine without breaking laws.
    At one time pupils used to share text books in lessons, or be issued them and have to pay for a replacement if they were not returned at the end of the year or course, or if they were lost or destroyed before then.
    Schools did not have the ITC which they now have without parents contributing. When computers came into schools at first most of the money was raised by PTAs, and tablets of any sort were not around. Now schools are supposed to provide technology to use at home in some cases. I am not suggesting parents should be charged but I am suggesting a certain amount of fund-raising is not unreasonable or new.
    Issued stationery was checked for appropriate use and ‘no wasted spaces’ before new was given out: you could not use school issued equipment for any other purpose or you paid to replace it.
    In these sorts of ways individuals were encourage to look after things and take responsibility. Some of the financial strain schools are under is due to the ‘throw-away’ society we all live in and the feeling in some parents that others should provide for all your children’s needs.
    In my experience teachers always have bought or otherwise sourced many teaching supplies which the school could not afford. Scrounging from local businesses was a necessary skill!

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    • Every child in this country should be entitled to an equal standard of education, for a minimum standard curriculum regardless of their parents’ income. In the past this has been generally true, with parents or teachers needing to find extra money only for activities which fall outside of this core curriculum.

      But when funding becomes a political lottery, funding depending on the votes that it might raise for the party in government, and some areas get far more funding that others…

      And when education funding is cut across the board, and Swipple’s Rule of Order applies (“he who shouts loudest, gets”), then the political lottery gets exaggerated…

      Until Head Teachers are forced to decide which kind of paper to buy – textbooks or lavatory.

      Just because it has always been the case that parents have had to contribute funding for education doesn’t mean that it is morally right that they should have to do so.

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  2. We must not forget we are post-1984, and need to watch out for double-speak.

    When this government talks about “a fairer funding formula” then the likelihood is that the funding is:

    A. not decided by a formula – despite the title and the rhetoric there is no formula published which allows you to check that the funding in your area has been calculated correctly; and

    B. it is not fairer – fairer funding would suggest that the aim is to provide an equal quality of education for every pupil – with funding reflecting e.g. local staff costs, but if that were the case then Devon’s funding (which is way below the national average) would increase to bring it closer to the national average. But under the “fairer funding formula” it is actually getting further from the national average; and

    C. the total funding is actually being cut in real terms. Calling it “fairer funding” is a way to disguise the underlying cuts to the education budget. They can give huge tax breaks to the ultra-rich, but they cannot afford to fund our children’s education properly.

    So don’t be deceived – this is Orwellian double-speak.

    See also: “Academy Schools” – suggesting changes to improve the quality of education, but actually double-speak for privatisation.

    See also: “NHS Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STPs)” – put forward as new ways of achieving the same standard of health-care at lower cost (efficiency savings) but actually double-speak for plans to achieve savage cuts in health spending (whilst spending eye-watering sums of £10bn – £30bn PER YEAR on the administration of these).

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