Government legislation ensures that education provided wholly or mainly during school hours should be free of charge. Charges may be made for the following:
- excursions involving a third party
- the board and lodging costs during residential trips
- ingredients for cooking activities
Some activities, e.g. swimming, may only be possible if parents make a voluntary contribution and requests for such support may come in a number of ways;-
- by inviting specific contributions for each particular activity as it takes place
- by receiving contributions from the PTFA on an annual basis and using these to subsidise activities.
If we ask for a parental contribution we will:-
- notify parents before the activity takes place
- inform parents that the contribution is voluntary
- advise parents that if insufficient contributions are made the activity will not take place
Charging for school activities
The 1996 Education Act requires all schools to have a policy on charging and remissions for school activities. No charges can be made unless the governing body of the school has drawn up a Charging and Remissions Policy. The policy must be made available to parents and must be kept under regular review.
A Model charging and remissions policy is available on Somerset County Council iPost website.
This model has been used as a basis for the school’s own policy, and was completed/amended to suit the school’s own individual arrangements.
The following guidance has been taken into account in the school’s Charging and Remissions Policy.
Guidance on charging
In general, all education provided during school hours is free, though music tuition can be an exception to this (see below).
(i) Residential school visits
Schools cannot charge if 50% or more of the time spent on the activity is in school hours or if the activity is part of the national curriculum. If a charge is made the cost must not exceed the actual cost; ie the school must not make a profit.
However, schools may charge for the cost of board and lodgings during overnight school trips. The charge must not be more than the accommodation actually costs and parents who are in receipt of certain benefits are not required to pay. (See remission of fees below.)
(ii) Music tuition
Charges can be made when the tuition is not an essential part of:
- the National Curriculum
- a public examination syllabus
- first access to the Key Stage 2 instrumental and vocal tuition, Wider Opportunities programme
No charge can be made for entering pupils for public examinations that are on the National Curriculum.
However, an examination entry fee may be charged to parents if:
- the pupil wasn’t prepared for the examination at the school
- the examination isn’t on the National Curriculum, but the school arranges for the pupil to take it
- a pupil fails without good reason to complete the requirements of any public examination where the governing body or local authority (LA) originally paid or agreed to pay the entry feeSchools can also charge for:
- re-sits for public examinations where no further preparation has been provided by the schoo.l
- costs of non-prescribed examinations where no further preparation has been provided by the school.
(iv) Breakages and replacements
Schools can charge for breakages and replacements as a result of damages caused wilfully or negligently by pupils.
(v) Extra-curricular activities and school clubs
School can charge for extra-curricular activities and school clubs. The charge cannot exceed the actual cost of the provision.
Schools can ask parents for a voluntary contribution towards the cost of:
- any activity which takes place during school hour.
- school equipment and
- school funds generally
In the example of an activity, if it cannot be funded without voluntary contributions, the school must make this clear to the parents at the outset. The contribution is voluntary and pupils of parents who can’t, or don’t want to, contribute must not be excluded from the activity. If insufficient voluntary contributions are raised then the activity can be cancelled.
Remission of charges
When a school informs parents about a school visit, they should make it clear that parents who can prove they are in receipt of the following benefits will be exempt from paying the cost of board and lodging:
- Income Support
- Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
- support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Child Tax Credit (provided they do not also receive Working Tax Credit and have an annual income, assessed by the Inland Revenue, that does not exceed £16,190 (financial year 2012/13)).
- Guaranteed State Pension Credit
Further information on charging for school activities can be found on the DfE website.
Last reviewed: 2013
This policy is included in the school’s finance policy 2013 – Section 12.