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The Sydney Morning Herald is reporting that NSW public schools are turning to their attached P&Cs groups to fill the gap in their educational programs and facilities.

In response, P&Cs are asking parents for an annual voluntary contribution of $200 per child or more to help pay for the school’s requests – which often include gifted and talented classes, specialist literacy and numeracy programs, iPads, toilet upgrades and additional support teachers.

This financial contribution is on top of voluntary school fees requested by the NSW Department of Education, whose own figures show significantly boost the average school’s financial intake.

The latest published figures show some public schools, such as Baulkham Hills High, raise as much as $250,000 a year through the voluntary school fees which are designed to “enhance educational programs”. But many schools are also relying on P&C donations to fill the gaps in their financial outgoings.

At Epping Boys High for example, parents are asked to contribute to three P&C funds, including grounds maintenance and building funds, totalling $400. That is in addition to the voluntary school fees, which exceed $400.

In addition to these fees, the school’s P&C bought the school a 25-seater bus, language textbooks, workbooks and student welfare support from the contributions they have received.

Willoughby Public’s P&C contribution is $200 per child while at Neutral Bay Public, the annual P&C contribution last year was $180 for one child, rising to $450 for three or more children. Neutral Bay’s P&C’s fundraising target was $200,000.

However principals warn that it is often only parents in wealthy areas who can afford the levies, and as they are a voluntary contribution, there is a bigger divide between rich and poor schools being created.

Geoff Scott, the president of the NSW Primary Principals’ Association, said P&Cs were often asked to support programs such as gifted and talented classes, art workshops or school bands.

“There are some wealthy P&Cs because parents have high-disposable incomes and they can fund programs supplementary to the school plan but there are many schools where parents are not high earners,” Mr Scott said.

The president of the NSW Federation of P&C Associations, Jason Vials, said schools that struggled to raise large amounts were often the ones that needed it the most in rural and remote areas or with a large population of non-English speakers.

“There is no doubt that P&Cs are being asked to contribute significant amounts to schools and this has been going for some time because of chronic underfunding,” Mr Vials said.  “Parents are asked to even contribute boxes of tissues because school cannot afford them, as well bring-your-own-devices because schools don’t have the money to buy things like laptops and iPads.”

 

  • I could not believe when my older children changed schools we went from QLD to WA and what we had to supply was ridiculous. Two boxes of tissues , a ream of photo copy paper, 18 rolls of toilet paper per child, plus other things beside the usual school things. Then it cost me $360 in voluntary fees for the three of them. We had come from a school where $60 paid for all the books, pencils and other stuff they needed for each child for the year.

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  • yes we pay for everything like tissues etc. just bought my daughter a $1500 laptop through her school

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  • The P & C’s are so important in schools. I believe every parent should support them in any way they can.

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  • This isn’t confined just to NSW. In QLD, I’m involved with the P&C for the primary school and the high school. The primary school has a voluntary contribution, along with items like tissues being on our booklist. The high school doesn’t; we raise funds through community events and we work hard for it. We’re in a rural farming area, if we don’t raise funds, there is plenty our school will miss out on.

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  • hasn’t that always been the case? my son is 24 and I remember fund raising for kids..

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  • If we used hankies, we had to provide our hankies – we didn’t expect the school to provide them. Parents and others have been raising funds for schools for as long as I can remember and I believe was happening in the early 1960s too. One school in particulare funds for sports equipment such as cricket bats, softball ones too. They also raised funds for a swimming pool which is no longer there. Parents repaired library books etc. to save needing to buy more. The schools that I went to had great libraries which were used a lot.

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  • I don’t have an issue with parent’s contributing to maintenance levies, although I do agree that voluntary levies would favour schools in wealthier areas. It does seem strange that schools can’t afford tissues… surely a broader funding issue.

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  • That’s something I have not heard of before but I am in Melbourne

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  • Parents have been asked to contribute tissues for years

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  • And so many of those costs hit right after Christmas, which makes it even harder for families.

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  • From what I know, this has been going on for decades, if not longer. Even private school ask for these kinds of contributions, including tissues boxes, on top of fees.

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