Retail pressure at school 21

The boys school holds a Scholastic book fair twice a year (They used to just send Red House catalogues home) and last week Maxi and Mini were exposed to the sort of retail pressure that no child should ever experience and I encountered the worst sort of emotional blackmail.

We are a book loving family,  We regularly visit the library and the boys have lots of books and also read regularly.  I have no issue with either of the boys bring home a catalogue and buying books for them and used to regularly buy from Red House and The Book People and still do, however, we have found Scholastic to be pretty expensive in comparison, but I still do buy if we can afford it and there is something suitable for the children.

The way it works is in addition to a catalogue being sent home,  the school holds a fair with the books on display in the lower school hall and you can visit the fair with the children after school over a three day period.  I had agreed with the boys that the fair was too close to the end of the month and that we didn’t need any additional books.

But the school felt it was appropriate to take all the children round the book fair during school time and let them browse the books, not only did they do that but they also encouraged them to write a wish list with three books on to present to their parents.  The pressure didn’t end there.  When I reiterated to Maxi that we would not be buying any books and that Mummy didn’t have any pennies, he informed me that he was told that if his parents didn’t have the money that he needed to take it from his piggy bank and if he didn’t but any books then the school would not get any new books and he would then be unable to have any reading books.  To say I was horrified was an understatement.  I was absolutely fuming.

I also found out that Mini had been taken round the fair, but as his teacher refused to write out wish lists for her pupils as most of the children in reception can not write, she felt it was a poor use of her time and also that is was unnecessary pressure of parents.

I have written to the head teacher expressing my concern over the unnecessary retail pressure they have intentionally exposed my children too and am awaiting a response.

It really seems as though I am spending more and more money at the school.  I have to send in 50p a week for Mini for snack.  School trips are becoming vastly expensive, the last one was £6.00. When you visit after a school play or event you are encouraged to buy back biscuits or cakes that you have provided along with refreshments.   It seems that there are non-uniform days, dress up days and carious other days where the children have to pay to be out of uniform too.

I send my children to school to be educated and to learn to get on with other people, not to be exposed to these sorts of pressures at such an early age.



21 thoughts on “Retail pressure at school

  • Aly

    That is ridiculous! Even with help from the school because I’m on benefits I find I’m constantly shelling out for things too.We don’t have any book clubs at my kids school just the Yellow Moon catalogue.Mia starts school in 2012 and I’m dreading what the cost will be.
    Unbelievable that they got them to write a wish list!!!

  • Katie

    That is truly an unacceptable approach by the school – I’d be furious!!!! I hope u get a decent response to your letter. Buying back refreshments that you’ve donated is pretty grabbing and ungrateful too – how do other parents feel?

  • Lesley-Anne Weir

    That sounds terrible! Perhaps the school trying to sell as many books as poss to add to their own stock as Scholastic give a generous percentage of sales in books to the school? Certainly doesn’t excuse this, but may explain it. As a teacher it is a constant struggle to provide opportunities for pupil such as trips without passing on the expense to parents-we need to be creative! Everyone feeling pinch in the current climate. Well done for voicing opinions to HT-bet you’ve spoken for a lot of parents in your school!

  • Becky

    EXACTLY the same here with scholastic and endless requests formoney to go into school. Then they say ooh we raidsed 3 k for charoty last year,,,no love,,,we did! I resent paying £1’s for him not to wear uniform, money for cakes, £11 for a walk round a nearby nature reserve and to paint stones. RIDICULOUS and endless

  • ToybuzzUK

    I’m so glad you’ve said this as I thought it was just my sons school that always seemed to be moneygrabbing, now I know it’s not.

    It seems like I have to take money with me everyday I go and pick them up, as there is always something happening in the hall or children walking around the playground trying to sell me something.

    Last term they had a chocolate day which consisted of taking a chocolate bar to school, which i thought a little odd. Little did I know at the end of the week the school hall was opened for all the mums and dads to go and rebuy the bar of chocolate to take home.

  • Lou

    Good for you writing in. I have experienced similar and totally agree that the pressure to buy is enormous. I love books – hey, I aspire to publish, but I can’t afford the numbers of books you need to stimulate young minds on a regular basis – hence the library.

    Thank god for libraries.

  • fireflyphil

    Your Comments THAT is entirely unreasonable and insensitive to say the least. I can hardly take it in that teaching professionals would do that. I only hope you get a satisfactory reply. Perhaps you will keep us up to date on this here – I’ll be interested.

  • nazima

    Unbelievable. I know they have to do their best to raise funds in these times but to put pressure on you via the children is completely unacceptable

  • The evil brother

    Seriously? You cannot complain about 50p for snacks, even the £1 for non uniform isnt really a complainable amount either. Especially when you realise schools use the money from these kind of things to subsidise trips and what not, buses to take kids anywhere on trips are massive amounts. The money schools get in from non uniform days and such go into a fund that means schools can have days out. And everyone knows kids learn more in different enviroments. When they become too expensive for schools will people complain their kids are non even going on a school trip?

    The book thing i agree its nothing short of pathetic.

  • Fishfingers for tea

    That’s appalling! Well done for writing in. What do the other parents thing about it? We’re not at that stage yet with Miss P but I already worry about how much it’s going to cost by the time she gets there. But for a school to essentially blackmail a child is horrendous!

  • Emma

    Chick goes to a middle class school and we have exactly the same problem….not helped by the fact that there is ‘no help’!! Every week at least there is something that needs paying for or that they need help with. Her last school trip for 1 night cost £100 whilst her friend at a school 3 miles away that is in special measure paid £30 for EXACTLY the same trip!!!!! I refuse to pay for any books at the book fair but will take her to the cheap book shop in town and buy something she likes for 1/3 of the price!!

  • Ella

    We have the same pressure from our school and I hate it. I hope you have success from complaining to your school

  • geekymummy

    seriously? That is awful! We have scholastic book fairs at preschool too, the books are out in the lobby to walk past every time you walk in and out. WE browse all week and on the last day I get them a book each, and will buy gifts for any upcoming birthdaus. But the only lists are requests for books for the classrooms. I usually buy a few, preschoolers are tough on books. We sometimes get a free book for each kid from them too, which makes it worthwhile. The teachers tactics that you describe are terrible!

  • Gemma

    I’d be super furious at that too, I’m just beginning to realise how much money school will constantly expect. Sophie who is still at Pre school has already been sent home with a tub with voluntary contributions written on it. The following week came home with a letter stating that the voluntary contributions tub needed to be back with the recommended amount of money by X date. What is voluntary about that?

    I have no issue with contributions but when things like pressure get added on to almost force you into paying for stuff, that’s where I draw the line. Let us know if you get a response.


  • Cass@frugalfamily

    That’s disgusting – I wonder what their response will be.

    Our school are really good about things like that and we’re rarely asked for much to be honest. When they changed school colours a while ago, everyone got a free school jumper embroidered with their initials.

    They ask for things like empty printer cartridges and toners for recycling to make money but don’t put any pressure on us to take them in and I’m able to take stacks in because of where I work so they love me lol.

  • Julie

    I’m quite shocked, at first the story sounded similar to our school but it sounds like they are really taking a step too far. We have some of these pressures but not quite so blatantly money-grabbing (e.g. at shows they make money by charging 50p for a programme but it is full of the kids artwork). Most of the school’s additional money is supplied by the PTA who are very active and raise lots of money – I suppose this is just another way of getting money from you but the PTA do organise good events and activities – which I’ll often help out at.
    Having said that I do know that school budgets are getting smaller and smaller and they really have almost no cash for replacing books and photo-copying etc (at least that’s the case round here0…..but the fund-raising shouldn’t be done through the kids being exposed to retyail pressure. Good luck woth the school. Juliex

  • Tanya (Bump2Basics)

    How awful – and good on you for acutally doing something about it and writing to the school. Even if school funds are tight this is no excuse to put pressure on small children for money. We all give in our own ways relative to how we can. I remember you previously mentioning giving items to charity. These are the lessons (giving within our means) that our children should be learning, not to feel confused at the lack of a retail purchase!

  • Vanessa

    I’m going to go out on a limb here… and guess (HOPE!!) that the teachers weren’t deliberately exerting ‘retail pressure’. They are probably trying their best to encourage the kids to read, and by getting a ‘wish list’ the kiddos have to really think about what books appeal to them etc. Yes, perhaps they went a little over-the-top but could you/we give them the benefit of the doubt that they were just a bit over-enthusiastic?

    I must say that on the other issues you raise (and in some of your readers’ comments) I don’t see the harm in the small contributions for occasional outings / cake sales etc. I assume your kids aren’t in private schools costing thousands of pounds a year, but rather in schools they attend for FREE. Dipping our hands into our pockets for some reasonable additional things should be seen in the overall light of “how much did I actually pay for my child’s education this year?” – the answer is likely “very little”.

    {I would compare this with those who complain about paying a couple of quid for parking at a hospital when they’ve been able to see a top consultant -worth mega bucks if paying privately – for NOTHING} It kind of puts it all in perspective, for me.

  • Matt

    Vanessa, I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you don’t actually pay any taxes. Otherwise, I think you’ll find that you are paying for your children’s (and everyone else’s) education – even if you don’t have children. Free at point of delivery does not mean free.

    And of course you don’t see the harm in paying for things – you can afford it.

    Child poverty is a reality in this country.

    Schools can’t require money for anything considered part of the curriculum, but the pressure, emotional and otherwise they can exert can really make things difficult. There may be a perfectly good explanation for this incident, but it sounds to me like it’s right out of the primary school budget stretching playbook.

  • Jane

    Hi there, this bothers me too. I even raised it as an important issue at our parent council meeting. It was complete news to the headteacher and other staff that anyone might feel pressurised into spending money. Of course they didn’t actually believe me as they are perfect and can do no wrong!

    Also I have real issues about paying to park at hospital – a tax on the sick!

    …And those world class consultants have been trained out of the public purse!

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