Schools: Fees and Charges

Department for Education written question – answered on 10th September 2018.

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Photo of Grahame Morris Grahame Morris Labour, Easington

To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will make it his policy to introduce a scheme to support (a) low income families and (b) families with multiple school-age children with the cost of (i) compulsory uniforms, (ii) school equipment and (iii) school-based activities.

Photo of Nadhim Zahawi Nadhim Zahawi The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Education

Through the pupil premium, which is worth more than £2.4 billion each year, schools receive significant additional grant funding to support the children of low-income families. The grant allocation is based on the number of eligible pupils attending the school each January. Therefore, greater numbers of pupils claiming free school meals (FSM) generate greater grant funding for the school.

School leaders are free to use the money in any way that they choose to benefit their pupils. This may include providing financial support for uniform and equipment purchase, school trips and activities. We understand how important it is for pupils to be ready to learn and to participate in school activities. We know that many schools use the pupil premium to help their pupils with these necessities.

The department publishes uniform guidance, which places great emphasis on schools giving the highest priority to cost considerations. The high cost of a school uniform should not leave pupils or their families feeling unable to apply to, or attend, a school of their choice. Some English local authorities provide discretionary grants to help with buying school uniforms, using their own eligibility criteria.

We publish clear rules about school charging parents for elements of their child’s education. This states that schools cannot:

  • charge registered pupils for education provided as part of the school’s duties to provide the national curriculum
  • charge parents for materials and equipment needed to take part in education during the school day, unless the parent wishes to own the item.

Where a school trip involves education for which the school cannot charge, the school must fully remit the cost of any board and lodgings for pupils eligible for FSM.

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