The news that a school is asking parents to make a suggested donation of £10 each month due to financial problems has sparked a huge debate among readers.
Whitburn Church of England Academy has appealed to families for financial support as it faces a funding crisis, with the situation set to worsen in the coming years.
In a three-page letter to parents and carers, principal Alan Hardie tells of how all schools in South Tyneside are facing difficulties over their budgets and states: “Unless there is immediate action, the unfairness of school funding will have a detrimental impact on the quality of education we can provide for your child.”
It says it is now getting £325 less each year per pupil compared to six years ago, with its total funding for its secondary school down by £258,231 to £2,542,242 over the same period.
Whitburn has said the funding from parents will ensure after school clubs, new library books, additional costs such as the renewal of its mini-bus and money to fund coaches for its successful rugby team will continue.
While these are not essential, it says these “enrich” their education and give its 980 secondary school children and 200 sixth form students opportunities they might miss out on.
Headteacher Alan Hardie said: “It was a very difficult decision for myself and the governors and I’m not political person, but I very firmly believe education should be free at the point of delivery and it is with great reluctance we have had to take this decision.
“I think it’s important parents realise that we might be one school doing this, but all schools are in a difficult position.”
Readers took to our Facebook page to have their say on the topic.
Gennine Bellamy wrote: “I think its a disgrace how a school is having to ask parents for financial help!
“However i would pay it if it made better education for my sons. £10 a month is a hell of a lot cheaper than some countries. It’s only pennies a day really.”
Kathy Haq said: “They should not have to do this, the Government should stop their tax cuts for the rich to fund education and the NHS properly.”
Steph Hetherington wrote: “It is disgraceful, we pay our taxes and council tax, haven’t had a pay rise in years but let the parents make up the shortfall.”
Ian Donaldson said: “That’s what our taxes are for.”
Abbie Innes wrote: “Exactly why I left teaching, schools are ran more like businesses than schools these days.
“It’s not about the kids anymore, glad I’ve left school and teaching for that matter!”
Margaret Fletcher added: “I would be appalled if my daughter’s school asked me for £10 per month. I couldn’t pay that from my ever diminishing budget.”
Lorna Hardy wrote: “Why not run fundraising events and campaigns rather than just asking for a handout. Surely that’s what the school should do bring everyone together to support.”
Kristofer Read said: “So what happens when the schools starts to rely on those donations?
“Will schools in less well off areas suffer more because parents can’t afford to give a regular donations? What are the government going to do about it?”
And Lisa Ball wrote: “I’m not sure this is a good idea. £120 per child per year over five years/seven years. That’s a lot of money.”