The Town Mayor of Thame has as her charity this year, Lord Williams’s School Young Carers. I though of this when I read apiece on the BBC about parents making donations to schools. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-50732685 The BBC found that in 2017-18 the average school in London raised some £43,000 from donations. In Yorkshire, it was just £13,000. Although incomes may differ between the two regions, the price of goods the schools purchase probalby doesn’t to anything like the same extent.
This disparity between areas even short distances apart has troubled me ever since I started teaching in Tottenham in the 1970s. Schools in the Highgate and Muswell Hill areas of Haringey regularly used to raise substantial sums even the, both from parents and school activities, whereas those in South Tottenham would be lucky to bring in a fraction of the same amount. Not only did parents not earn the same, but they also didn’t have access to figures in the media and entertainment worlds that could open the summer fete and attract large crowds by doing so.
When I came to Oxford in 1979, I found a similar pattern between parts of the South and East of the City and the North West wards. Such a difference still exists.
One difference from now was that when all schools were under local authority control, local politicians could arrange the funding in ways that might support less well-off schools. An objection to the National Funding Formula is that in its purest form it doesn’t really allow for such differences between schools to be overcome.
Where schools can access support from charities, the addition of Gift Aid tax recovery can make the difference even greater. Now, I think the Mayor of Thame’s Charity is excellent, in that it is clear where within the school the money raised will be used.
Another school I know used its fundraising to benefit the community as a whole by creating an all-weather pitch that could be used outside of school hours.
Despite pressure on school budgets over the past few years, education unlike the NHS, hasn’t really featured in the general election. Possibly because every main Party is promising more for schools; something for post-16s, but whatever happened to higher education?
So, should the National Funding Formula take into account the amounts raised by schools? Such a move might help, but it wouldn’t stop parents supporting their own children: something that troubles the Labour Party in this election, if their plans to abolish private schools are to be believed.
As I have already noted on this blog, in Essex, the Tories take the opposite view, by refusing free transport to selective schools and thus making it a challenge for the less well-off to take up places at such schools where if they live some distance away from the school.
Perhaps we can start a charity to fund the bus fares of children attending selective schools that cannot afford the fare. But, why should they have to rely upon the charity of others, rather than the acknowledgement of the State that if you have a selective system, then every child should be able to attend a school as which they have secured a place.