London schools turn to parents for funding support

Written by: Pete Henshaw | Published:
Donation demands: Research suggests that 35 per cent of parents with children at school in London have been asked to contribute to top up their school’s finances

A third of parents in London have been asked to make financial contributions to their child’s school, new YouGov research has revealed.

Furthermore, 80 per cent of the parents said they were aware of financial pressures at their child’s school, with 38 per cent of the parents having received a letter from their school highlighting the current funding pressures.

The research involved 1,030 parents of children aged five to 16 living in Greater London.

Of the 35 per cent who had been asked to make contributions, more than half (55 per cent) were asked because of the impact of funding reductions on their schools’ budgets.

The research was commissioned by London Councils – a group which represents London’s 32 borough councils and the City of London – to investigate parents’ views on various aspects of the education system.

Parents in the survey reported that the most common consequences of the funding pressures include a reduction in school support staff (46 per cent), reduction or removal of extra-curricular activities (41 per cent) and parents or teachers paying for resources (36 per cent).

A fifth (21 per cent) reported subjects being removed from the curriculum and 17 per cent said that building and grounds maintenance had been cut.

The government has recently unveiled a new National Funding Formula, which reforms the way schools will be funding in the future in a bid to iron out historical discrepancies that saw hugely different levels of per-pupil funding across the country.

During the transition to the new system, every school has been promised at least 0.5 per cent more per-pupil in 2018/19 and one per cent more in 2019/20.

However, notable increases to the costs facing schools, including pension and National Insurance contributions, wage increases and inflation, means that 88 per cent of England’s schools face real-terms cuts to their budgets by 2019/20.
Furthermore, London Councils argues that only 35 per cent of schools in England will get the minimum per-pupil funding uplift of 0.5 per cent in 2018/19, compared to 67 per cent of schools in London.

After the General Election, ministers also announced an extra £1.3 billion in schools funding in 2018/19 and 2019/20. The Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) has said that this additional funding will only serve to reduce the real-term cuts facing schools from 6.5 to 4.6 per cent between 2015 and 2019.

London Councils claims that the capital’s schools will receive a lower proportion of the extra money than any other region.

Previous research by the National Audit Office shows that in 2018/19, schools will experience additional cost pressures of 1.6 per cent. London Councils says that only 27 per cent of London schools will receive enough extra funding to deal with these cost pressures.

The group estimates that the cost of meeting budgetary pressures for every school in England by 2019/20 would be £406 million nationally, including £99 million in London.

Peter John, deputy chair of London Councils and executive member with responsibility for schools, said: “Paying for school activities or making regular monthly donations is not always easy for parents and it is unfair that they are being asked to stump up cash because the true cost of running schools is not being recognised by the government.

“This is a sign that government has not gone far enough to ensure schools can meet all the necessary demands on their budgets, which in London include the cost of providing support for the growing number of pupils with SEND as well as higher salaries for teachers and support staff.

“London’s schools are the best in the country and we are concerned that the lack of adequate investment to cover real-terms costs could slow down their success.”


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