State schools ask parents for annual donations

The Sunday Times is reporting that some elite state schools are now asking parents for donations or to set up direct debits, according to a new study.

The newspaper features research by Sol Gamsu, a PhD student at King’s College London, which will be unveiled this week at a Royal Geographical Society conference. He said that Tiffin Girls’ School in Kingston upon Thames, southwest London, asks for a “voluntary parental contribution” of £30 a month. Other grammars in London request up to £60 a month.

His research is featured in an article that also revealed that the cost of privately educating a child in England had risen to £157,000. Private schools continue to outperform state schools at GCSE and A-level, and leading state schools are looking to extra funding measures to try and bridge the gap.

It quotes Gamsu as saying:

“A small group of elite state schools in and around the capital are beginning to pull away from the rest of the state sector in terms of funding…

“With regular donations and targeted fundraising of alumni, there appears to be an attempt by some schools to copy the practices of the private sector. At a time of substantial cuts to school budgets, these schools are more able than others to make up for the shortfall.”

More at: Private schools price out middle class (subscription required)

What do you think? Should schools be asking parents for donations? Is this just mimicking the private sector, or an innovative method of fundraising? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter ~ Jon

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  1. shirleyannemcm

    tgeducation Yep. In Forthill our school funds were a fiver per yr. My sister went to Grammar school- different story!!

  2. shirleyannemcm

    tgeducation But my mum always took ‘voluntary’ as literal and she never paid it. We just couldn’t afford to.

  3. State education should be properly funded.  It’s only schools in affluent areas with mostly affluent pupils who can count on parents paying ‘voluntary’ contributions on a regular basis (it’s a bit different when it’s a one-off, such as a trip).  Schools in less affluent areas can’t ask for regular donations (and shouldn’t do so, in any case).
    So-called regular voluntary contributions are a subtle way of putting pressure of parents.  It implies parents are investing in their child’s future and is, therefore, a reasonable, if not noble thing, to do.
    But society needs to invest in the future of all children.

  4. tgeducation

    shirleyannemcm The 1947 Act which produced ‘free’ secondary education set limits on fees grammar could charge because they got public funds

  5. There are other ways of extracting money from parents.  For example, schools which have a sole provider for uniforms may get a cut from the supplier (this is not supposed to happen, but some schools list income from school uniform sales in their accounts).  Or pupils could rent a locker whereby pupils rent one with a non-refundable deposit such as the scheme administered by Independent Locker Solutions.   The question is: does the school get a percentage of the non-refundable fee?

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