Headteacher's cash appeal to parents

A HEADTEACHER is appealing to parents to make an annual or termly contribution to school funds because of the squeeze on education budgets.Richard Hewitt, head of Hartismere High School at Eye, has written to every parent appealing to them to help fund "extras" like out-of-hours clubs and school outings, which fall outside the national curriculum.

A HEADTEACHER is appealing to parents to make an annual or termly contribution to school funds because of the squeeze on education budgets.

Richard Hewitt, head of Hartismere High School at Eye, has written to every parent appealing to them to help fund "extras" like out-of-hours clubs and school outings, which fall outside the national curriculum.

Mr Hewitt said that school budgets were no longer subsidising the activities he considered as essential to a broad education.

"Such activities are considered desirable but are not seen to be essential and funding these days is all geared to the essentials.


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"Schools which attain the desired results and do not make out a case of special need do not get the funds. The value of school budgets has dropped," he said.

Desirable extras included equipment for music, drama and sports activities as well as school outings.

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Many parents had conveyed their willingness to help by re-instating the "old traditional contributions" to school funds, he said.

"We are only looking for a few pounds a year from the parents of each pupil and some, of course, may not be able to afford even that.

"But the extra money that comes in enables us to contribute towards the cost of an activity which an individual pupil may not be able to afford in full," he said.

Mr Hewitt said some parents had already responded to the appeal by sending cheques, some of them involving a "generous" amount of money. There had been no complaints in response to the letter.

Fundraising would continue at the school and the tradition of part of the funds raised going to charity would continue.

Mr Hewitt claims the idea is not new. He said it was "the norm" until six or seven years ago when annual fund-raising by pupils replaced annual parental contributions.

He said in his letter to parents: "For many tears Hartismere High School requested parents to make a contrubution to its school funds. As in the majority of schools this was a normal and accepted practice.

"Later, when finances were less stringent and we had more time for pupils to raise funds, we ceased asking for parental contributions in favour of more pupil-based fund raising.

"Now times have changed. Most parents know how difficult it is for us to get the best from the school with budgets as they are at present.''

Vanessa Simmons , chairman of the Hartismere High School Association, said she believed parents needed to help the school in every way they could.

"Many people these days cannot find the time to support fund-raising events and would prefer to make a direct contribution. Hartismere is an excellent school and it deserves all the help it can get," she said.

Mrs Simmons said she had not received any negative feedback about the appeal for contributions.

But one parent who did not want to be named said: "The letter from the school went straight in to the bin. I pay my taxes and expect them to cover my child's education," she said.

A county council spokesman said it was not known whether other schools were appealing to parents in the same way as Hartismere High.

However, the funding needs of Suffolk schools and the local authority were being put forward at every opportunity.

Tony Lewis, a member of the county council's executive committee, said a letter had already been sent to the Department for Education about the pressure Suffolk schools had experienced this year and stressing the need for a "realistic" financial settlement for counties like Suffolk.

"Although there is the potential for future problems if the Government does not recognise fully the pressures on schools and education services, we acknowledge that the Education Secretary, Charles Clarke, has said he intends that the kind of funding difficulties experienced this year should not be repeated," he added.

What do you think about schools asking parents directly for money? Write to East Anglian Daily Times Letters at 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, Suffolk, IP4 1AN or email EADTletters @eadt.co.uk

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