PTA UK's view on school funding and parents
With so much media attention on school funding, and with parent groups being on the front-line of the debate, you may be wondering what this means for parents and PTAs.
I want to take this opportunity to provide some background on the issue and suggestions on what your PTA can do that you may wish to share with other parents.
Teachers and parents want the same thing – for our schools to deliver the best educational experience possible for every child. But with schools facing falling budgets, we are aware that an increasing number of schools are appealing directly to you to support their calls and campaigns for more funding, as well as asking parents for additional voluntary contributions to help meet increased costs.
We are concerned that this may make some parents and PTAs uncomfortable, and may also pose a risk to relationships between schools and parents in the longer term.
The impact on schools
The debate on school funding focusses on two main aspects:
(1) The government’s initiative on making school funding fairer and more transparent in England through a new national funding formula
(2) Educators’ concerns about the overall levels of funding in education.
The national funding formula proposals will mean funding gains for some schools and losses for others. A public consultation has recently closed and we await the results. However, in real terms, the funding available to all schools is less because of increased cost pressures (which include growing pupil numbers and teacher pensions). See PTA UK’s position on school funding.
The impact on parents
Although many are willing to contribute financially, our research tells us that parents are feeling the pinch and are concerned about the growing cost of sending a child to state school. We know over a third of parents already give regular donations to their child’s school. In recent weeks, the trend for schools asking for donations from parents (sizable sums to boot) has ramped up.
You have also told us that with schools under pressure, PTA funds are being increasingly invested in school essentials rather than the ‘extras’– from our annual member survey results.
What could your PTA do?
Whether it’s raising funds, coordinating volunteers, taking action to improve facilities or building the school community, PTAs already make a significant contribution to our children’s educational experience and engage a wide network of parents.
So you are well-placed to:
- Take the opportunity to promote to parents, school leaders and the wider school community the difference your PTA makes and the benefits of parents getting involved. You may find this guidance useful. It’s a good time to remind parents that by fundraising through the PTA, they have a say on where that money is invested.
- Support your school by engaging all parents directly on this issue. Consider writing to parents or arranging a parents’ meeting to discuss how school and parents can work in partnership to address these funding challenges, and seek their views on where future PTA funds should be spent and how parent volunteers can be best deployed.
- Work with your school to establish your PTA as a parent voice group - which the head teacher and governors can consult on resourcing, policies and other matters that impact on parents. Not sure how? We have produced a guide to help you.
I trust this letter is useful to you; please feel free to share with those active in your PTA and beyond. Do let us know about the circumstances in your school and which initiatives you adopt, including via our PTA UK Facebook pages.
Wishing you and your PTA continued success.
P.S. Don’t forget you can keep up to speed on education news by following PTA UK on Twitter or sign up to our half-termly Parent eBulletin.