William Eichler 13 September 2018

Cash-strapped schools relying on donations from affluent parents

Government budget cuts are forcing many schools to rely more heavily on extra financial contributions from parents, a charity focusing on social mobility finds.

A new report from The Sutton Trust has found that two in five (39%) of school leaders say that extra financial contributions requested by their school have increased in the last two years.

Based on a survey conducted by YouGov, Parent Power 2018 also found that nearly half of parents (49%) say their school has asked them for an extra financial contribution in the last twelve months.

Local authority leaders warned last March about a ‘squeeze’ on school funding as a report from the Education Policy Institute (EPI) revealed that the proportion of council secondary schools in deficit had trebled over the last four years.

Cllr Richard Watts, chair of the Local Government Association’s (LGA) Children and Young People Board, commented at the time: ‘Council-maintained schools are under significant funding pressures as a result of cuts to local authority budgets, an increase in wages and the additional costs of paying the Apprenticeship Levy.

‘The introduction of the national funding formula for schools and reforms to high needs funding have exacerbated things further, by making it more difficult for councils to ‘top-up’ high needs funding in response to rising demand.’

The Sutton Trust’s report, published today, found that the schools in wealthier areas were able to draw on the financial resources of affluent parents to partially compensate for Government cuts — an advantage schools in poorer areas do not have.

It also found that parents from lower socioeconomic groups struggled with the extra costs of education, such as uniforms and travel expenses.

Over half of working class parents (56%), compared to 34% of professional parents, said these ‘hidden costs’ played a significant role in their decision making when it came to choosing schools.

Some parents in higher socioeconomic groups are also likely to deploy ethically questionable measures, such as buying or renting a second home in a catchment area, or using a relative’s address to gain access to a particular school, to get the best education for their children.

Almost one in three (30%) affluent parents personally knew a parent who used ‘ethically dubious strategies.’

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