The “voluntary” contribution to “school funds” is something I had completely forgotten about until reading a comment posted on an earlier article. It strikes me as being a very 60s thing – surely parents would not now docilely hand over money for no specified reason? Then receive no accounts or updates as to how much had been accumulated or how it had been used. No doubt, if we asked now, we would be told that information had been available for the asking.
Anyone who has worked in accountancy would be aghast at these practices and the worst thing is the contempt with which the contributors were treated. They knew that parents would not dare object for fear it would be taken out on their children. Today I would want several pertinent questions answered. What are the purposes for which this money is being collected? Where is it kept? Who has access? Who decides how it will be spent?
Let’s remember we are talking about a school run by the local education authority which would be responsible for the running costs of the school. Maybe the collected funds were deposited with the local education authority, certainly I have no information that this was not the case.
So, how much money are we talking about? I cannot remember exactly how much the weekly levy was. It could have been, in pre-decimal currency, just 2 shillings and 6 pence (12.5p today) or maybe 5 shillings (25p) remember the spending power of one pound in the 60s was 18 times what it is today. Assuming 400 pupils (say) contributed 12.5p for 40 weeks of the year then the annual total would be £2000. That equates to a massive £36,000 in today’s money! Of course the real figure could be much higher.
My theory is that Sexton wanted the freedom to act without going begging to the LEA. Possibly it was used to fund things such as school trips, extra-curricula activities, staff Christmas party etc. Having said that, it is one hell of a lot of money to get through every year! Just processing that amount of money in small coin must have taken a while, whose job was that?
If anyone has information on this please get in touch. I wonder how long this lasted after the school became a full comprehensive. Any staff members care to share some insights with us?