Paying for an Academy

Michael Gove has no friends at all in the Local Schools Network – not surprising as the contributors oppose the government’s education policy.

Many posts on the website relate to free schools and academies and are therefore of interest to anyone concerned about such a school opening locally; they provide information from an alternative perspective.

A post today written by a mother from Bath relates a request from the head of her child’s academy for a monthly contribution to school funds from parents. The request included the statement that it was not unreasonable to ask for money, due to the “bleak governmental funding future” and the fact that the opportunities at the school were “on a par with any other school”.

Is this what parents at an academy can expect? When pressed on the reasons why this “top-up scheme” was being implemented, when converting to academy status was supposed to result in better funding, the head “claimed they needed extra resources to come from parents to compensate for reductions in funding per pupil”.

You can read the post and comments here .

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4 comments

  1. Jim

    Maybe this is what Gove means when he says he wants state schools to become more like private schools? It’s one thing for schools to ask for contributions for school trips ( though some of those are excessive ) but quite another to ask for payment for unspecified running costs. But then, it does appear that a number of free schools and academies have been paying very high ‘consultancy fees’ and ‘expenses’ to some of their sponsors so I guess the money has to be found from somewhere.

    Leaving aside running costs have you noticed how pressure on the ‘extras’ has grown? Paying fees does not let you off – a friend pulled her daughter out of Wycliffe even though the grandparents paid the fees because the constant demand for costly extra activities was too much. And it seems that most weeks at least one of the Waitrose community boxes is to support some school trip to save a rare snail in Bolivia or some such. ( Sorry – I came over all Daily Mail for a moment! )

    Do Steiner schools make similar cash demands? I know they ask for work in various forms but I don’t know about money.

  2. Helen

    The fees for independent Steiner schools are variable according to income. From reading accounts this has led to some of the problems with children allowed to form hierarchical systems within school, which lead to bullying.
    I did wonder whether these problems would decrease with state funding, but it seems these top-up schemes are becoming more widely used as academies expand, so the issue of parental contribution to school funds will not be a thing of the past for Steiner schools.
    Children are quick to pick up on what is going on among parents, and as the head pointed out in the post above, generosity on the part of some parents does not go unnoticed by senior staff either.
    Altogether, I would say this system of contributions will make for uncomfortable situations.

  3. Anon

    If the private kindergartens in Stroud are to go by, there are ‘extras’ that need to be paid for. The overall cost is in effect sidelined ‘not so much hidden’ from the standard fee costs listed. Although there is no fixed cost written down each term, it is to be accounted for.

  4. Helen

    I suppose there will always be extras to pay for at school and nursery, and it depends how much pressure is felt by parents to pay. If they are really optional extras, saying no shouldn’t in theory be difficult.
    I read an account by a Steiner school mother who said parents who couldn’t pay agreed fees for whatever reason were “allowed” to make it up by working at the school – usually cleaning, usually toilets.
    I have no idea how common this is.
    http://sylviaashton.tripod.com/waldorfeducation/id1.html

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