Something has been bothering me for a while. Since last summer, in fact, so it’s high time I got it off my chest. I’m fed up of the extra – and not wholly necessary – ways that Dylan’s school seems to find to get extra money out of us.
Before I launch into this rant about the cost of school, I feel I should qualify my position by pointing out that I’m not a Scrooge. I come from a family of teachers and grew up well aware of the difficulties faced by schools as far as funding is concerned. I have a number of friends who are teachers too, so have remained sympathetic to the need to pay for essentials, but I believe that there should be a happy medium between fundraising and maintaining a good relationship with parents.
When we first went to buy Dylan’s uniform, we were told that he must have a bag with the school logo on. It cost a tenner, which was twice as much as one with a well-known cartoon character on that we bought Xander for pre school. I was annoyed on the first day when I realised that half of the kids had normal bags. Then came the PE kit. Bearing in mind that, in reception year, kids spend most of the lesson getting into their kit and then back into their uniforms again, I assumed that a plain T-shirt would be fine. Silly me! Again, we had to buy one with the school logo on it which cost the same as a pack of three plain ones. A theme was beginning to emerge…
Cut to Christmas, the time of good will and tight budgets. To send cards to his friends via the school postbox, he needed stamps. They had been created by some of the older kids as part of a design project – and they were brilliant, by the way – so props to the school for that, but did they really need to charge parents for them?
Recently, we were invited to an event in which the main hall had been turned into an art gallery. All of the kids had done paintings which had been ‘professionally framed’. We got an email which tugged on the heartstrings – and the purse strings – leaving us feeling like utter bastards for the mere fleeting thought of not buying his painting. Which cost £8.50. For the record, I’ve bought frames like it for a third of the price. And don’t even get me started on the fucking glow sticks at the infant school disco…
Now don’t get me wrong, we’re really pleased he’s at such a good school. They’re innovative and offer a nurturing environment that encourages creativity and he absolutely loves it. We don’t mind paying for everything he actually needs and dutifully attend all of the normal fundraising events and put our hands in our pockets without question. But it sometimes feels like they’re taking advantage and I don’t think it’s fair on parents. If this had all taken place last year while I was out of a job, we simply wouldn’t have been able to afford it all and I would have felt absolutely awful for not giving him all the same opportunities as his classmates.
Is it just me, or are expenses like these overstepping the mark? What are your experiences of schools and fundraising?