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U-turn over school's fundraiser welcome

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 27/05/2016

Schools have been advised to avoid gender terms when referring to pupils.
Schools have been advised to avoid gender terms when referring to pupils.

Ballykeel Primary school near Ballymena, in common with many others throughout the province, is feeling the cold hand of austerity on its shoulder.

And as the Executive at Stormont begins its work there are already dire warnings of even greater budget cuts in the coming months and years.

So the school is to be commended for its initiative in trying to raise funds for badly needed resources, in this instance for its maths teaching.

And it has managed to rake in some £33,500 since 2011 for various charities aimed at improving life for pupils and even parents connected to the school.

Of course, the children and pupils also deserve praise for their efforts in finding alternative money for the school.

So it is unfortunate that the latest fundraising venture should have caused some dissent among some parents.

The school, in an attempt to incentivise pupils, set three fundraising targets - £10, £25 and £50 - each with an ascending reward.

It is an idea that probably seemed good on paper - children do like to be set targets - but is fraught with problems in real life.

Imagine the feeling of a child who could only raise the lowest amount and who would look on enviously as others gained greater rewards - in this instance an ice cream, or an ice cream and a calculator.

As a parent pointed out, those who have more than one child at the school will find it even more difficult to help them raise enough to gain the upper rewards.

It is not just schools which are feeling the pinch today. Parents, perhaps fearful of their job prospects or with several young children, or bringing up a family as a single mum or dad, would not want their children feeling humiliated because of their relative lack of success in fundraising compared to those from better-off families.

That has always been the argument in favour of uniforms - so that all children irrespective of their background would have the same appearance in the classroom.

Thankfully, after receiving complaints from parents and calls from this newspaper, the headmistress at Ballykeel has accepted that this fundraising initiative was flawed.

Schools are meant to be nurturing and supportive environments for all pupils, but this tiered reward scheme could have given some of them a harsh lesson in economics no matter how well-intentioned the initiative was.

Belfast Telegraph

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