Paying for education?
This week a Stoke-on-Trent high school asked all of its parents to pay £60 per term to backfill the financial gap left by well publicised national funding cuts. Whilst I understand the business case for this as all schools are facing huge cuts, this does not sit comfortably with me.
It is true that we are all having to cut certain things that we want to do that we have been able to do in the past. However I believe fundamentally that all students should be able to access any local school they wish. Putting a financial barrier that may put off many families for applying to your school just is not right. Our academy is open to all and supports equality of access.
At the Co-operative Academy of Stoke-on-Trent we are able to support many of our families who might struggle to find some of the extra money. At the moment due to some money that we raise from letting our buildings, we are able to subsidise uniforms for all new Year 7 students and we ensure that families are able to source the uniforms from cheap suppliers such as supermarkets to keep costs down. We do not ask for contributions for supplies for technology or art because we believe in equality of access to the curriculum. A student should not be put off from studying food technology, product design, sport, art or photography because they cannot afford the equipment or supplies. There is a base level of access to all the different parts of the curriculum that we will not compromise.
Visitors to the academy comment on our aspirational culture. The Co-op as a sponsor, me as the Principal and the staff that work here all believe that education is a key lever to social mobility. There will be some big challenges going forward and our values and principles of what and where to target our resources I'm sure will be tested. But I can assure everyone that whatever we do it will be in the best interests of all the students and families that form part of our community.