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School trips and non- uniform days demands

(61 Posts)
biglouis Sun 04-Dec-22 00:06:18

Just been reading a thread on MN about a constant barrage of demands from schools for things like:

Wear yellow and donate £2
Non uniform day donate £2

And so on. Parents who have several children complain they are constantly handing out money they cant afford.

What are your experiences with your children and grandchildren for such things? With the COL crisis some of the schools really do seem to be taking the mick.

When I was at school (1950s) there was very little of that. Maybe once a year we were given a horrid little envelope in which we had to collect a donation. The teachers used to check up and nag at you for not bringing it in. I used to put a foreign coin in mine as my parents were no way going to give me hand outs for charities.

The same with school trips. I was supposed to take bus fare but usually managed to sneak on the bus without paying because I had none.

The other thing I can remember was the yearly jumble sale when I used to ask my grandmother for something old. She would give me an old bit of blue and white china with a crack in it or some tatty old lace.

Very occasionally there were other demands. If it involved money my parents said NO and I had to just tough it out in school.

Now it seems that teachers are not allowed to discriminate against children who do not bring in a "donation" to show them up in front of their classmates.

Doodledog Sun 04-Dec-22 01:10:19

Now it seems that teachers are not allowed to discriminate against children who do not bring in a "donation" to show them up in front of their classmates.

They shouldn't be 'allowed' to discriminate, and nor should they feel inclined to do so, IMO.

I was at primary school in the late 60s, and remember Smile books, which were for something like Save the Children. They were little books with perforated photographs of orphans, and you were supposed to sell them to friends and family, who wrote their donation on the 'stub' and tore off the photo of the child they liked best. It was all kinds of wrong, and as I was one of three children it must have been a real nuisance to my parents and relatives. There was a similar one for Barnardos, I think. We also had plastic money boxes in the shape of houses for (I think) Christian Aid Week. You took them home and tried to fill them up during the week, and there was a public count of the donations in class with the winner getting a prize. We occasionally did sponsored things, but they were always useful, such as cleaning brasses that people sent into the school, or litter picking.

My children started school in the 90s and had seemingly countless 'days' such as World Book Day, which involved making or buying costumes and paying for them not to wear the (non-compulsory) uniform. Ditto Children in Need and Red Nose Day etc. There were also book sales and fundraisers for the PTA. Some of those were fun, but again, the cost will have added up for those with larger families. I hated the dressing up days, and resented paying for them to do it. Most people bought outfits from supermarkets, which didn't fit the following year and ended up getting thrown away. Anyone who couldn't afford them must have felt bad. I think that if schools insist on doing this sort of thing they should have a 'bank' of clothing that people can use, so nobody is left out.

Some of the 'days' were quite specific - wear a colour for a cause sort of thing, so not everyone would have (eg) a yellow top or a green dress. I can't remember what they were now. Red for AIDS springs to mind as an example, although I doubt it was one of the causes the school supported. They also did sponsored activities but they tended to be silences or other things that benefited nobody, but cost the parents and friends money.

I know schools struggle, and that getting money out of parents is essential, but I would have preferred a voluntary (and anonymous) direct debit or something, with none of the emotional blackmail attached to visible displays of contribution. Some of the parents made a huge deal out of letting everyone know how much they paid up.

And don't get me started* about Operation Raleigh-style schemes to give experiences to 6th formers that they hope will boost their University applications. They are just organised begging, and I lost count of the social occasions we went to that were supposedly for a parent's birthday or something but turned out to be raising funds for someone else's child to get a fancy holiday that would give them the edge over others who were applying for the same courses. How children from deprived areas were supposed to be able to access them is beyond me. Even the ones that don't allow direct contributions are totally skewed in favour of kids whose parents know enough people with spare money or whose companies can contribute auctionable items that can be deducted against tax as charitable donations, or whatever.

*Oh, I got started grin.

DaisyAlice Sun 04-Dec-22 01:16:49

My children regularly brought home sponsorship forms. I didn't feel comfortable with them asking people for money so we gave them money which we couldn't afford and 'made up' the sponsorship names.

nanna8 Sun 04-Dec-22 05:58:46

Sounds ghastly. Glad they don't have it here. All the schools collect fees off parents though, state and private and you have to buy your own books at all the schools so maybe that is why? You also have to pay sometimes quite substantial costs for school outings and camps. State and private.

Greenfinch Sun 04-Dec-22 06:58:28

We have teenage twin grandchildren living with us so we are constantly bombarded by this sort of thing. Until recently we had to pay charitable donations via Wisepay to avoid taking cash into school. The annoying thing was that this organisation would take a cut of the donation. I refused to do this and would pay the charity direct. It is interesting that one of the schools has reverted to taking in cash and the other school has far fewer non uniform days than before and asks for a lot less money. This is a mainly neighbourhood school in a poorer part of town. Good for them I say.

MawtheMerrier Sun 04-Dec-22 08:16:59

Now it seems that teachers are not allowed to discriminate against children who do not bring in a "donation" to show them up in front of their classmates.
They shouldn't be 'allowed' to discriminate, and nor should they feel inclined to do so, IMO
Of course they shouldn’t.
At one time I had a very sweet but isolated boy in my tutor group, polite, hard working though not particularly high achieving, neatly turned out but a “loner”. With hindsight he may have had ASD tendencies but we were not necessarily as aware of things then. Although some of the kids tried to mock him he was never physically bullied, but certainly never fitted in and it was always a fear.
Last day of term was always non-uniform day (yes, with a £1 donation to whichever charity we were supporting) and all the kids turned up in “uniform” jeans and trainers. Only this one time I passed him on his way to school and I could see he was in full immaculate uniform. As soon as I got in I rang his Mum and asked if he had told her about non-uniform day. Apparently she hadn’t, and yes he did have jeans and trainers at home so worried that if he turned up sticking out like a sore thumb he might be picked on by some of the “lads”, I caught him at the entrance, and sent him home to change. His mum thanked me at the next Parents’ Evening for being sensitive.
No reacher worth their salt would discriminate against a child for not producing a contribution, or expose them to the ridicule of others, contrary to what some people believe, we knew a lot about family backgrounds and were sensitive to both the kids’ and the parents’ situation.

Oopsadaisy1 Sun 04-Dec-22 08:22:59

We never had any spare money, when I was young or when ours were small.
But we had ‘freedom from hunger’ week when I first started Secondary School and we were encouraged to take homemade cakes in to sell, that was easy as Mum was always baking.
Then we had a fundraiser for Biafra, again taking in food to sell.
When mine went to school it was mainly sponsorship or non uniform day, to which we contributed for a nameless Charity.
The same thing when the GCs went to school.
I don’t think any of us felt we had to do it nor was it ever mentioned if we were unable to.

Iam64 Sun 04-Dec-22 08:30:18

Good story Maw

My daughters complain, justifiably I believe, about the constant text / email demands from school. Fundraising seems endless. One has just paid £40 so both parents and 2 grannies can watch her 3 and 6 year olds in their separate class nativities.
Wear yellow, non school uniform days, disco afternoons.
Then it’s homework every night for the 6 year old.
Too little down time for children and parents (and teachers)

ParlorGames Sun 04-Dec-22 08:40:59

I recall the Sunny Smiles 'charity' when I was in junior school. Each pupil was given a small book of photographs - maybe 20 or 30 - they were photos of babies and the idea was for the pupils to sell the photos for a donation to the charity. I never did manage to 'sell' all mine. My parents wouldn't allow me to go from house to house to sell them.
Then in grammar school during the first year we had a talk by the NSPCC and were each given a money box which was to be collected in at the end of that school year. I still remember the smug, superior look on the face of one pupil who had the fullest money box.
I have never agreed with sponsorship either although my own children have been involved with such events at Brownies, youth clubs etc. I would determine how much I could afford and enter fictitious names on the forms with that amount divvied up between the list of names.
Yes, I do give to charity but I do it by choice and not under pressure by anyone.

eazybee Sun 04-Dec-22 08:57:47

I would agree with you about excessive fund-raising demands. When I was a teacher there seemed to be a request nearly every week for some form of donation; sponsored silences, spellings, table tests, mile of pennies, fruity Friday, walk the perimeter of the sports field, book club, buy sport equipment (headbands, T shirts, socks etc), not to mention Red nose day, Children in Need, Summer and Christmas Fairs, school photographs plus trips to the pantomime and educational visits, one a term. There were also swimming lessons, free, but the parents were charged for the cost of the coach. Pressure was put on parents, whose charitable instincts were exploited to 'raise money for the school' by a charismatic but avaricious Headteacher.

Maggiemaybe Sun 04-Dec-22 09:41:43

I worked at a school in a very deprived area. We never charged for any activity to raise money for school funds - trip costs were kept to a minimum and heavily subsidised by school, but no child was left out because they couldn’t pay (many didn’t). We did have a couple of events each year to raise money for charity, which the children enjoyed, but it was done in such a way that children who couldn’t pay weren’t singled out. I’d guess it’s easier in a school where most families are in the same boat. Poorer parents in a school in a middle class area must really struggle to meet all these demands.

nanna8 Sun 04-Dec-22 09:46:16

What about school fetes? They seem to raise a lot of money and people love the home baked things.Better than asking for donations all the time and the kids serve the goods and they seem to love it.

Franbern Sun 04-Dec-22 09:47:35

I can well remember that at one time, I had six children across the years at their primary school. We were very hard-up and I actually wrote to the Head Mistress saying that any 'sponsorship' forms they were given would just be torn up. No way was I going to get all six children asking the same few relatives to come up with money. I explained to the children why our family could not do these sponsorships and it did not cause any problems.

This primary school used to collect food once a year for Harvest Festival. This was thenput in boxes nad taken oround to OAP's living close to that school. Pupils were asked to bring in on the day, pushchairs or dolls prams, which were used tot ake round these boxes. Only those children who supplied these prams were chosen for this task. My regular donation to Harvest Festival was a small tin of chopped tomatoes - the cheapest item I could find on the superarket shevles. I often felt that those receiving these parcels were probably better off than our family (hubbie had MS and was unable to get work). All my AC remember those tinned tomatoes - all quite happy about it - they did take in the prams, etc. and that was the most important part.

Marydoll Sun 04-Dec-22 09:56:54

When I was teaching, in an area of high deprivation, we never asked for extra from families with more than one child. We also knew the families, who could not afford to donate, and their dignity was preserved.

I know of a number of families, who were never asked for payment for trips, the parents could hardly afford to feed them, so we subsidised the trips.

Yammy Sun 04-Dec-22 10:14:29

Even when I worked as a teacher over 15 years ago too many days were to make money. We had a scheme that you could buy a lottery number can't remember the amount and if your number came up you got £20.
The one I detested and thought was awful, the school borrowed a large shopping trolley from a supermarket and the children had to bring in Christmas food donations, they got worse even when I was working and then they had to sell tickets to see who would win it. I was thoroughly disgusted when at least two years members of staff won the trolley load and took it off home, the parents were aiding the staff's Christmas!!!
I always said that the free dinner children's parents had paid at the office when someone came around to collect school dinner money.
It must be a nightmare these days,one GD has had World book day, World Science day,to Dress like a Roman and a child being evacuated. Luckily my daughter is quite imaginative and manages the costumes but what she would do if she had three or four I don't know!!!!
At school we had the smile book for Christian aid and Dr Barnados, Also the houses you were meant to fill and was counted in front of everyone even the twins in my class were given a house each. Mine never had much in as my father danated to whom he wanted not the schoolsad

Chardy Sun 04-Dec-22 10:22:45


What about school fetes? They seem to raise a lot of money and people love the home baked things.Better than asking for donations all the time and the kids serve the goods and they seem to love it.

There are all kinds of rules now about selling things that have been made in a home-kitchen.

biglouis Sun 04-Dec-22 10:24:52

Nice to hear a teachers perspective on this.

When I stated that the school was not allowed to single out children who did not contribute I was not refering of the present day or recent past. It was very different in the 1950s school where I attended from age 7-11. When we were given those tacky little envelopes the teacher kept a record of the ones that were returned. The parent was supposed to put in a donation and sign the back.

I knew that if I pestered for money I would get a slap from my father so I never dared to ask. If I could not beg some money from my grandmother I put a foreign coin in and just scribbled a name. I was bright enough to realise that once the teacher had ticked you off the list as having returned the envelope nothing more would be saidf.

I can remember carnivals and festivals we had in school but I dont recall having to pay a "fee" to join. My grandmother always made my costumes from some of her old clothes. One year I was picked to be Mary in a nativity play. She made me a dress from a white sheet and dyed another deep blue for a shawl. I can remember my best friend going to one carnival as Maid Marian in a tall pointy with a veil had her mother had made her and was very envious of that hat.

Of course kids love getting dressed up and participating but I wonder which planet some of these schools are on with their constant demands. I had kids there would be an almost blanket refusal (on principle) and my kids would have to tough it out, as I did.

Callistemon21 Sun 04-Dec-22 11:15:28

Now it seems that teachers are not allowed to discriminate against children who do not bring in a "donation" to show them up in front of their classmates

No child should have to face discrimination because their parents cannot afford to make a donation.

With the COL crisis some of the schools really do seem to be taking the mick.
I think the idea is to encourage children to think of others, however, some of them may be the ones suffering, of course.

They don't have to wear yellow or a Pudsey Bear outfit; most children have a pair of pjs and some kind of dressing up outfit for World Book Day. They do receive a book voucher on World Book Day.

The £2 is a suggestion, not an order.

However, I agree it has become a bit much now, there always seems to be some event or other going on.

At my youngest DC's primary school they used to hold auctions - parents would donate something or volunteer their services, gardening, tuition etc and the bids would begin.

Callistemon21 Sun 04-Dec-22 11:26:20

I can remember 70 years ago taking in donations for children who were starving in Africa.

70 years on sad

VioletSky Sun 04-Dec-22 11:29:24

All contributions are voluntary at our school.

Events like plays and nativities are free.

There is pupil premium for disadvantaged children that extends a grant to the school. This is used at the schools discretion and can help towards uniform costs and trips. It can also be used to help children who don't qualify for it but can't afford larger trips so they can attend.

There is help available to try and put children on a level footing in school but schools can't help if they aren't asked

Callistemon21 Sun 04-Dec-22 11:32:11

Events like plays and nativities are free
At DGD's school the enthusiastic PTA would put on light refreshments at these events, proceeds to the school.

aonk Sun 04-Dec-22 11:42:16

Until recently I was a Governor at a local primary school which isn’t in an affluent neighbourhood. Yes they do raise funds for charities and for the school and have outings and trips but it’s all handled so discreetly that no one knows who has or hasn’t contributed.
Regarding wearing own clothes to school, when I was a child there were thankfully few of these occasions. Some of the girls may be been embarrassed because their parents couldn’t afford nice outfits. My family could afford nice clothes but my father chose everything I wore and it was all very childish and old fashioned. I returned in tears from a Christmas party at the age of 13 because I was dressed so differently from everyone else and I refused to go to parties after that.

Callistemon21 Sun 04-Dec-22 11:45:08

My heart used to sink when one of mine came home and said it was fancy dress for whatever event at school, Brownies, Hallowe'en party, school fete etc.
That was before so many costumes were available in the supermarkets.

Doodledog Sun 04-Dec-22 11:47:33

When did the Sunny Smiles books die out? They were really dreadful on so many levels. They were a feature of my childhood but had gone by the time my children went to school, so somewhere in between the 60s/70s and the 90s. Was there a high-level decision to stop them? Comments on this thread suggest that they were a feature in a number of schools.

Franbern, having six children must have made all of these things difficult, particularly the 'dress up' days. I only had two, and it was bad enough trying to come up with a centurion costume for one and a mushroom for the other with two days' notice as they'd forgotten to give me the note. A friend of mine had four children who were briefly all in primary school together, and she had to push hard for them to get a photo taken with them all together rather than pay for one each. As she said, apart from the cost (which would have been high) she could find a frame and a place in the house for one photo, but four? It would have been like living in the Portrait Gallery by the time they left Primary.

What I can't understand is why teachers in the past were so insensitive to the things that even at the time were obviously cruel. Counting money in front of the class, 'free ticket children' in separate queues, sitting children according to scores on weekly tests, indiscreet letters to give to parents if the nit nurse found infestations and much more. I know that they don't do those things now, and that training is different, but why would it take training to show someone that these things were wrong? Attitudes to things like corporal punishment change (thanks goodness!), so whereas I can't begin to imagine caning a child, I understand that at least some people who did it thought it was 'for their own good'. But surely seeing the faces of children who bring in a moneybox with very little in it going to the bottom of the class ranking, or who can't be in the play because their mum doesn't have the money for a costume would make it clear that these things are a bad idea? And that's without the hideousness of the Sunny Smiles concept.

sodapop Sun 04-Dec-22 12:49:28

I remember Sunny Smiles Doodledog what an awful concept that was.

I agree in the 50s and 60s discrimination was not even thought about, I remember all the incidents you mention in your post. Supposed to toughen us up.

Unfortunately charities are going to suffer badly next year as most people will not have enough money for their own needs without donating to others.
It's sad that so many organisations and establishments rely on charitable donations, I feel for hospices and children's respite centres they will have some hard choices to make.