Education used to be free.
Not anymore. Well, it is still free. You don’t have to pay. However, budget cuts mean that more schools are asking parents for contributions.
Here’s how you can support your child’s education by shopping online.
I am going to tell you about easyfundraising and how I wish that I had signed up to easyfundraising when we were regularly buying nappies. I could have raised money for my local school by buying nappies – crazy!
The education budget – what is happening?
Many state schools are currently asking for parents to support their schools. We had a letter from the headmaster just before Easter asking for parental donations. I have resigned to the fact, this will become the norm.
The Financial Times say this is “the largest real-term funding cuts in 30 years”.
I have not paid attention to the education budget for 30 years, but my kids are at school now, and so I want to know my school is secure – academically and financially.
The politics – what’s the issue?
The issue is that there is a shortage of money. Education, like the NHS, has become another sector to be affected by austerity. Like most public services, the government is trying to find ways to cut the budget. Or in political terms, they are trying to distribute the education budget more evenly.
It has triggered concern amongst teachers and headteachers. It is a worry for us parents.
Don’t complain to me – tell your MP!
I appreciate this article could soon get political. There is an election, so if you are not happy, this is your chance to say. I can imagine the arguments:
“Why should I have to pay for education – this as the state’s responsibility.”
“I pay my taxes…!”
“Teachers should be teaching, not raising funds!”
“It’s a slippery slope…”
“This is the future – accept that there is not enough money to go around.”
“Austerity… sorry, it hurts!”
“I blame the EU…!” – well actually, education has got nothing to do with the EU, but I am sure someone will try to blame the EU!
There is an election looming, so you might want to ask your local MP what they are going to be doing for your kids’ local school.
What can I do?
All schools need money. The cut to my local school is the equivalent of 5 teachers’ salaries.
You can support your local school. The usual strategy is to donate money to your local school – with a cash donation, buying a Christmas tree or a cupcake from the Christmas fair and so on. Most schools have fundraising events of some sort.
But there are other ways.
At the time my first child was born, I did not know about easyfundraising.org.uk If I had known what I know now, I would have signed up straight away.
Their strapline is that they make shopping guilt free. Now, every time that I shop, I go looking for stores that have signed up to easyfundraising.
When I buy my weekly groceries on-line, I look for stores that are working with easyfundraising. On every purchase, I know easyfundraising will donate a percentage of the purchase to the education of my kids, when I check out. Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons – many of the UK’s supermarkets have signed up.
It makes sense. The supermarkets want my custom, so they incentivise me to buy on-line. Every time I buy the weekly shop on-line, I now raise money for my local school.
Toys – Lego, scooters, teddy bears
We all buy toys. (Maybe too many toys?) Where do you buy your toys?
When Christmas arrives and your son asks for the new Lego Star Wars Millennium Falcon, think about it.
If I buy the Millennium Falcon at the Lego online store, I know that 1.5% of the purchase price will go to my local school. Alternatively, if I buy it at Argos, then my purchase would raise 3.5% of the sale price for the local school.
Suddenly, easyfundraising is altering how I am shopping. I am making a decision based on which shop will raise the most money for my local school. Maybe I have started to think that I am not spoiling my child if I buy the Millennium Falcon. Now, it feels a little less indulgent!
I don’t feel quite so guilty and I am shopping around for the best price and the store that will raise the most money for my school.
Case study – Nappies (Ok – it’s diapers for the Americans).
Have you ever thought how much you spend on nappies? It’s painful if you start to do the maths. Imagine if 3.5% of the money you had spent on your kids’ nappies had gone to your baby’s future education? Hopefully it takes the smell out of the extortionate price of nappies.
So, let’s assume you got through 10 nappies daily in the first year.
10 disposable nappies x 365 days = 3,650 nappies in your first year.
3,650 nappies at 50p each = £1,825.
That’s £1,825 on nappies alone in your first year.
If you buy your nappies at Argos, you could have raised £63 for your local school from poopy nappies through easyfundraising.
To coin a Yorkshire phrase “where there is muck, there is brass”.
When should I sign up?
I am coming around to the conclusion that I should have signed up to easyfundraising from birth. The buggy, the cot, activity gym – I could have bought them all with easyfundraising and by doing so, I would have raised money for my kids’ education.
Which stores have signed up?
Holidays, insurance, shoes, phones etc. I was surprised how many stores have signed up to easy fundraising already.
John Lewis – 1.75%
O2 Mobile – up to £45
Amazon – 1.5%
Flights, cinema tickets, garden furniture… the list goes on.
What’s the next step?
First, go to the easyfundraising site.
See if your local school has registered as a charity and then nominate it, as your preferred charity.
Once you sign up to easyfundraising, it’s easy. It runs in the background and every time you make a purchase, you will automatically donate money to your chosen charity.
You may need to ask your local school for details of their charity, assuming they have a registered charity, as easyfundraising only works with charities.
Forward this article to other friends in your school catchment area. Send a link to the headmaster.
If you are worried about education cuts, tell your MP. Now is the chance.
Whilst my kids are at school, and we are in good health, my kids education will, of course, be a priority. Like anyone who has got this far in this article, we just want the best for our kids!
If you agree, please share this article with other parents in your school catchment area – how you shop benefits your kid’s education.
Nick Farnsworth is a Toy Inventor – www.Littlesportstar.com. He is also dad to two great kids.