13/04/2014 - Parents charged for basic school items

schoolCharges are creeping into a lot of services that used to be free under the ConDem coalition. Their mismanagement of England's state schools is forcing parents to chip-in cash for basic items such as books and stationary, teachers' union ATL has revealed.

A survey of over 500 union members found a quarter are having to ask parents to help buy books as Education Secretary Michael Gove lavishes taxpayer money on his academies and free schools pet projects.

And a shocking 13 per cent admitted their school has had to ask parents for money towards the cost of stationary like pens and paper.

A primary teacher at a state school in Gateshead said: “We are having to ask for donations of resources such as scrap paper.”

Ninety per cent said their school or college asks for contributions towards school trips related to the curriculum, and 13 per cent said contributions were requested for musical equipment used in lessons.

Over 80 per cent of staff said their school or college makes up the difference if a parent or carer cannot pay towards school trips that are related to the curriculum.

But only 30 per cent said the same for the purchase of text or revision books, and 25 per cent said they make up the difference for school stationery themselves.

ATL general secretary Dr Mary Bousted said: “With budgets being squeezed now, more than ever, schools and colleges are having to rely on parents or carers to help pay for resources and activities that support the curriculum.”

Pat Harrington, general secretary of the Solidarity union commented:

“Books, musical instruments and basic equipment should be provided as part of a free education system. Asking parents to pay for these is just a form of stealth tax. Taxes aren’t going down but the services you get in return are being eroded. At a time when parents and carers are under financial pressure these extra charges are just another turn of the screw.”