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Charging for School Activities

October 2015

Exploring the lawfulness of schools demanding financial contributions from parents

Recent media coverage has revealed that a large number of state funded schools in England are demanding financial contributions from parents, in particular as part of the admissions process. Requesting financial contributions, whether voluntary or compulsory as any part of a schools admissions process constitutes a breach of the School Admissions Code. 

Activities schools may charge for

There are a range of activities schools can charge parents for, including:

  • materials, books, instruments or equipment where a child's parent wishes him/her to own them;
  • optional extras including education provided out of school time and not part of the national curriculum, examination entry fees where the pupil has not been prepared for the examination, transport (other than where this is required for a pupils education) board and lodging for a residential visit and extended day services offered to pupils (e.g. breakfast and after schools club);
  • music and vocation tuition where this is not an essential part of the national curriculum;
  • certain early years provision;
  • use of community facilities.

In order to be able to charge parents, schools must ensure they have a charging and remissions policy. The policy must detail the types of activities that can be charged and explain when the charges will be made. If a charge is to be made for a particular type of activity, parents must be made aware of how the charge will be calculated and who might qualify for help with the cost or event/be eligible to attend the event for free.

It is also worth noting that schools can in certain circumstances raise charge parents, for example penalty notices for a child's irregular attendance or for misbehaviour.

Voluntary contributions

Schools can ask parents for voluntary contributions which benefit the school or school activities, provided it is made clear to parents that there is no obligation for them to make any contribution. Where an activity cannot be funded without voluntary contributions this must be made clear from the outset and no child should be excluded from participating in an activity because their parents are unable/unwilling to pay. Where insufficient voluntary contributions are sourced and the school cannot find funding from some other source then the activity must be cancelled.

The limitations on charging applies equally to academies. It is important that both schools and academies are aware of the remit in which they are able to charge parents/request voluntary contributions so not to fall foul of the School Admissions Code, legislation and government guidance. The above information is a short summary of some of the considerations schools should make.

Further guidance on charging for school activities can be found at: 

Section 7.5 of the Governors Handbook 

DfE guidance 'Charging for school activities'

School Admissions Code 

Sections 449-462 Education Act 1996 sets out the law on charging for school activities in schools maintained by local authorities 

Details on penalty notices and when these can be used by schools

October 2015

 

If you would like to discuss any aspect of this article further, please contact Chris Billington on 0113 244 6100.

You can also keep up to date by following Wrigleys Schools team on Twitter here

The information in this article is necessarily of a general nature. Specific advice should be sought for specific situations. If you have any queries or need any legal advice please feel free to contact Wrigleys Solicitors

 

 

Chris Billington View Biography

Chris Billington

Partner
Leeds

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