Voluntary Contributions for Educational Trips and Activities
Learning outside the classroom is widely recognised as a valuable and effective means of extending pupil knowledge, enriching pupil understanding and promoting personal and social development. Ofsted also acknowledge the importance of quality learning experiences outside the classroom for raising pupil attainment. Consequently, we promote and encourage the organisation of educational visits for all our pupils and hope that parents will recognise the value and importance of these visits and give their full support.
There has been some confusion recently regarding ‘voluntary contributions’ towards these trips and activities and through this letter I hope to clarify some these issues.
In guidance written by the Department for Education ‘Charging for school activities’ (May 2018) it sets out that a school cannot ‘charge’ parents for any element of the National Curriculum, this includes materials for learning or educational activities. However, governing bodies and local authorities can ask parents for ‘voluntary contributions for the benefit of the school or any school activities’. In essence, this means that any costly activities can be subsidised by reasonable contributions by parents to enhance the experience of learners at the school.
The school believes wholeheartedly in the value of these experiences and tries to ensure that these opportunities are accessible and affordable to all. However, the school does not have the financial resources to pay the full costs and, consequently, a voluntary contribution has to be requested from parents/carers to make up the shortfall. This contribution is genuinely voluntary and neither you nor your child will be excluded if you choose not to contribute. The school cannot demand payment as, of course; a voluntary contribution is by definition voluntary. However, please note that without all such voluntary contributions, trips and activities may have to be cancelled, due to a lack of funds.
The school also makes allowance for those who simply cannot afford to contribute and uses some of its Pupil Premium funding to support those who are unable to pay with an additional contribution. The school advises those parents who feel they cannot contribute to discuss this on an individual basis with the Headteacher. These discussions take place with the utmost discretion and no child will ever be excluded from an activity due to lack of parental contribution.
There are, however, in school some activities that are not part of the national curriculum or run outside of the school day; for these activities the school can ask for payment. For example, France, Norfolk, additional musical instrument tuition, clubs that run after school which are not part of the curriculum and breakfast club.
I hope that this letter has clarified the issues regarding contributions to trips and activities. At Sacred Heart we aim to give the children the best possible chances in their education whilst trying to balance the cost for both ourselves and parents. I hope that you will support us in this.