Costs & Charges
Charging and Remission Policy
It is a requirement that the Governing Body of a school has in place a charging policy. This may be more or less generous than the LEA policy but must meet the requirements of the law.
The purpose of the policy for St. Mary’s Catholic High School is to make clear under what circumstances a charge will be made to parents. Unfortunately the law on this matter is complex and the rules about when a charge can be made are far from simple. In addition it is very important that the policy does not create a situation where few activities take place.
The governors have therefore tried to balance the need for a policy to be clear and accessible but also workable in the wide variety of circumstances that are met in school.
In general no charge will be made for any aspect of education, including books, materials and equipment, provided wholly or mainly during school hours. This will include visits out of school that are a requirement of the curriculum and all examination fees. However a charge may be made for activities fitting the exceptions listed below.
Parents can be invited to provide voluntarily particular items. The school can request donations for any purpose, but parents are not obliged to consent to the request. They are not in any way obliged to contribute, and the school has an obligation to make clear to all parents that this is so. The school must also make clear that no pupil whose parents do not make contribution will be treated differently on that account, or put at a disadvantage because of the parents’ inability or unwillingness to make a contribution. It is therefore good practice to provide anonymous collection methods that leave pupils and their families unaware of the extent of individual parental contributions. Voluntary contributions do not have to be in cash form, parents can provide the material and equipment if they wish to do so.
Equipment, Materials and Clothing
Equipment excludes clothing, including PE kit which must be provided by parents, with the exception of essential protective clothing/equipment such as safety goggles.
A fee can be charged for (or parents required to supply) ingredients and materials in areas such as technology that are to be used by a pupil to create his or her own article in a practical lesson. Any subject area can charge for materials, or require the materials to be provided as long as:
- the item is to belong to the pupil
- it can be taken away by him or her, and
- the parents have indicated in advance a wish for their child to own the product
Instrumental and Vocal Tuition
A charge may be made for instrumental tuition taking place whether during or out of school hours. A charge may be made for instrumental music tuition for up to and including a group of four pupils unless the tuition is part of the requirements of the national curriculum or the syllabus of a prescribed public examination, in which case it must be provided free of charge.
Instrumental tuition does not include vocal tuition. Tuition for singing, whether individual or in groups cannot attract a charge if within school hours. It can only be regarded as an optional extra if it is wholly or mainly outside school hours.
The pupil’s parents must be informed beforehand and their agreement must be obtained before tuition is provided.
A fee may be charged or entry to an examination where a pupil was not prepared for the examination at the school. An examination fee may be charged if a pupil fails without good reason to complete the requirements of the public examination. A fee may be charged for an examination if the exam is not on the prescribed list. When the school’s preparation could lead to more than one examination, the school is only required to enter the pupil for one of them. Parents could choose to pay for further entries.
A charge may be made for causing damage to school property, or damage resulting from vandalism, negligence or breaking school rules.
Optional extras (including school visits)
Parents may be invited to make a voluntary contribution for an activity that takes place wholly in school time. Because the activity is optional, parents have a right to choose whether their child should participate or not. Parents cannot be required to do so, nor be required to pay the charges – they must be willing to pay the charge. However, it must also be pointed out that the activity may not go ahead without voluntary contributions. For example if the school wishes to include the cost of providing supply cover for a teacher taking a school party on a visit that requires the groups to leave before the end of a school day, the agreement of all the parents of the pupils participating in the visit must be obtained. The contribution to the cost will then be a voluntary contribution.
Care needs to be taken when assessing the cost of the activity/visit as some would be unsustainable as they have low basic cost but potentially very high supply cost. In some cases therefore, supply costs of partial supply costs can be included, or if the activity/visit is deemed to be unsustainable if supply costs are include, then cover could be provided either in-house or there is a limited miscellaneous supply cover budget that can be drawn upon. In all cases a statement of activity costs must be drawn up and submitted to finance staff at the outset.
The charge levied by the school cannot exceed the actual cost of providing the optional extra, divided equally amongst those pupils willing to take part. Therefore, without the consent of all the other parents, the charge cannot include an element of subsidy for any pupils who would like to take part in the activity but cannot, or will not, make the required contribution.
Education activities that take place wholly or mainly outside of school hours will be considered optional extras and as such may be charged.
The cost of optional extras can include an appropriate element for:
- Board and Lodging
- Materials, books, instruments and other equipment
- Support staff costs
- Entrance fees
The costs cannot include the cost of accompanying teaching staff, or teachers who have been involved in the organisation of the activity, unless engaged specifically to provide the activity (e.g. tennis coach).
A charge can be made for the board and lodging costs of residential visits. The charge must not exceed the actual cost of providing board and lodging for that particular pupil. For example, if different nightly rates are applied by a hotel or hostel to pupils of different ages, the total charge for the party should not be averaged out. Those for whom the charge is greater should pay the larger (correct) amount for them.
If the visit is in school hours or is a requirement of a prescribed public examination syllabus or of a national curriculum programme of study, there will be complete remission of board and lodging charges in respect of pupils whose parents are receiving support under the following:
- Universal Credit in prescribed circumstances
- Income support
- Income Based Jobseekers Allowance
- Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
- Child Tax Credit, provided that Working Tax Credit is not also received and the family’s income (as assessed by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs) does not exceed £16,190
- The guarantee element of State Pension Credit
- An income related employment and support allowance that was introduce on 27th October 2008
Appropriate written proof of receipt of benefit will be required and will be photocopied for retention on school records.
The member of staff in charge of the visit should advise all parents beforehand that those in receipt of support as detailed above are entitled to claim the remission and this must be dealt with in a discreet and confidential manner. This ensures that parents receiving support who may not be known to the school receive the information.
Activities Partly during School Hours
Many school activities take place neither wholly inside, nor wholly outside school hours, but partly in both. In order to determine the classification, the 50% rule is applied:
- Non-Residential Activities: If 50% or more is spent on an activity in school item (includes travelling time, excludes mid-day breaks) the whole activity is deemed to be inside school time.
- Residential Activities: The number of half days are counted. A half day is any 12-hour period ending noon or midnight. If the number of days and half days spent on the activity (including travelling time) is greater than the number of school sessions (am and pm sessions) that a pupil would spend on a normal school day, the activity is deemed to take place outside school hours and vice-versa.