Monday 15 August 2022

Majority of schools break law on voluntary parents’ contributions

Schools are putting parents under pressure to pay up. Photo: Depositphotos.com

A majority of secondary schools are still putting parents under pressure to pay for extra school activities despite the voluntary nature of the contribution, the schools inspectorate has found.

Since August last year, schools are no longer allowed to exclude pupils whose parents have not paid a voluntary contribution, which can range from 20 euros to several hundred, from extra activities such as school trips or additional classes.

But pressure on parents to pay persists, an evaluation of 160 secondary schools has found. The results of the probe, which included an analysis of school guides (which contain the legal requirements a school must adhere to), even prompted the inspectorate to send a warning letter to all school boards ahead of the publication of its findings in the autumn.

Schools must be more critical of the way they communicate with parents about the contribution they ask for activities within and outside the official curriculum, the letter said, and clearly state the contribution is voluntary and that no pupils will be excluded because of non-payment.

‘Almost all school guides we have seen are fudging the fact the contribution is voluntary,’ project leader Matty Bruins told the Volkskrant. ‘They don’t put things like exam training under the heading of voluntary contribution, for instance, but put it somewhere else instead and then send separate invoices to parents who then think this is part of the compulsory costs.’

Phrases such as ‘this is why we emphatically ask parents to support us financially by voluntarily contributing tot the extra costs’ or ‘we expect parents who have chosen to send their child to this school to want to pay this contribution’ are too insistent and will also have to be scrapped. The inspectorate hopes schools will have adjusted their school guides by the time the new school year starts.

Schools which fail to do so will receive an official warning and could be sanctioned if they persist.

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