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  • School funding pressure ‘hits poorest families hardest’

    960 640 Stuart O'Brien

    76% of parents think that the cost of sending children to school is increasing and more than half (51%) agree that they are worried about such cost.

    That’s according to the fifth annual Parentkind survey, which polled 1,500 parents across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

    For the 2019 survey, Parentkind tracked parental attitudes on the key issue of school funding to build a year-on-year picture of the effect tightening budgets have on parents’ finances and their child’s school experience.

    The results show parents’ concern about the cost of schooling continues to be highest in relation to uniforms (46%), school trips (44%) and school meals/drinks (19%).

    Other key findings include:-

    • Parents of children who are eligible for Free School Meals (FSM) are more likely to feel costs are increasing (38% strongly agree vs 31% of parents whose children are not eligible) and to be concerned about them (29% strongly agree vs 15%)
    • Concern over the cost of uniforms is significantly higher for parents whose children are eligible for FSM (61% vs 44%); this is also true about the cost school trips (49% vs 43%) and the cost of school extra-curricular events such as concerts and sport days which parents are asked to pay for (20% vs 13%)
    • 38% of parents reported being asked by their child’s school for a donation to the school fund and 29% donated
    • Parents of children eligible for FSM (45%) were more likely to be asked to donate than those not eligible (38%)
    • The most common cost-cutting solutions that parents report seeing implemented by schools were being asked to pay for school clubs which used to be free (22%) and for events such as sport days or concerts (20%)
    • 55% of parents believe that any potential extra funding available to schools should be spent on learning resources (55%) and 43% think so of IT equipment.

    John Jolly, CEO of Parentkind, said: “These findings clearly show that parents are worried about the increasing cost of sending their child to school and the impact that squeezed budgets are having on the day to day delivery of a good education. It’s hugely concerning to see that the most disadvantaged in our society are bearing the brunt of this burden contributing more to schools and feeling the strain acutely when schools face cost-cutting measures.

    “It’s interesting to see parents are embracing a wide set of priorities beyond academic attainment, calling for more investment in learning resources, child mental health and SEN services – particularly among those eligible for free school meals – and for improving buildings and maintenance. These are critical to a positive learning environment without which we are failing our children.

    “Schools should regularly engage with families to fully understand the challenges they face – many already do this well. But, no school funding decision that impacts directly on the families in their community should be made without consultation and particularly if it increases the financial burden placed on parents or results in the unintended consequence of mums and dads participating less in their child’s education.”

    You can read the full report here

    Image by rawpixel from Pixabay

    AUTHOR

    Stuart O'Brien

    All stories by: Stuart O'Brien

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