I'm sure it wasn't like this when I was in school. It feels like there's a "day" for everything, and of course, every "day" demands a donation. They're all good and worthy causes, but how many contributions is it reasonable to expect? That's in addition to the cost of putting together a costume for most events, and the other payments that seem to be inextricably linked to so-called free education.
It was Roald Dahl day last week. (Aside from the fact I could have sworn it was actually a couple of weeks earlier), dress up as a character from a Roald Dahl book, pay £1 to do so, and then pay more to buy chocolate at inflated prices in school. Because of course, I have so many Roald Dahl costumes just knocking around the house!
|Veruca Salt, with her Golden Ticket|
Then in a couple of weeks, there's a "monster ball". Pay £1 for a ticket, dress up, oh and can you donate all your old dress up costumes to school so we can rent them out. (Alternatively, why not buy a job lot the first week in November, like I did last year?) And then the Christmas show, with costumes and tickets to buy. And the Christmas party, with another contribution. And the class trip to see Santa somewhere cold and expensive. Children in Need will be coming up soon, and a million others. Fruit money at the start of term, photos for this, that and the other...
Where does it all end though? It's not so bad for a household like ours where both parents are working. OK it's not easy for anyone these days, but a pound or so, a quick costume grab from the local supermarket doesn't add too much strain to the weekly budget. But what about those families who aren't so well off? We live in an area with higher than average unemployment levels, lower than average wages, and a lot of people struggling just to make ends meet from one week to the next. All these little contributions here and there soon add up. Children, especially of Squeaky's age, don't understand why they can't take part alongside their friends.
The payments are of course "contributions" according to the letters. But they don't seem quite so voluntary by the nagging texts that come via the secretary's office to my phone and that of all the other parents, whether we've paid or not. I spend my working days with families struggling to put food on the table and having to go without basics because their money simply won't stretch that far, so to see them being pushed further still is very hard to watch.
Does your school want to get involved with everything? Should there be a line? Let me know.