UK & World News
Schools 'Asking Parents To Pay For Textbooks'
Teachers are concerned poorer pupils are being put at a disadvantage by an increasing number of schools asking parents to pay for textbooks, computers and trips away.
More than two fifths (43%) of parents have contributed around £50 a year per pupil for things not linked to their child's school work, according to a poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL).
And 70% have donated up to £50 a year per pupil to help pay for items and trips that are related to the school curriculum.
In some cases, families have been asked for donations to help with the upkeep of school buildings.
Staff are worried children could be put at a disadvantage or made to feel left out if their parents are unable to afford the hand-outs.
The survey, which questioned around 500 people working in England's state schools, comes as ATL is due to debate the issue at its annual conference in Manchester next week.
The resolution calls on the union to express concerns that schools increasingly need to ask parents for voluntary contributions and the effect it has, particularly on poorer families.
It says: "The burden of meeting this request falls disproportionately on poor families and increases the disadvantages for these children."
Jo Inglis, an ATL member from Wokingham who is proposing the motion, said just 7% of teachers felt that asking parents for donations had no impact on disadvantaged pupils.
Jo Fludder, a Reading teacher who is seconding the motion, said: "Parents who have difficulties putting their children into school uniform, providing them with transport to school and with food, find the added pressure of additional money demands from schools very stressful."
A Department for Education spokesman said there is "absolutely no obligation" for parents to donate.
"If a parent is unable or unwilling to pay, their child must be given an equal chance to take part in school life," he said.