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Unions warn over funding cuts after school asks parents to help buy toilet paper

Union leaders have said the situation should ring ‘alarm bells’ for the Government.

A school in Theresa May’s constituency has made a “wish list” for parents to help purchase supplies including pens, pencils and toilet paper.

St Edmund Campion Catholic Primary School in Maidenhead, Berkshire, said many deliveries have already been received.

But union leaders said the situation should ring “alarm bells” for the Government and schools should not “be scrabbling around” for basic supplies.

A link to the Amazon wish list, containing 17 items, was sent to parents on Monday, the Maidenhead Advertiser reported.

It includes requests for Blu-tack, Sellotape and A3 paper, as well as toilet paper, with a comment that a “never-ending supply” was required.

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The wishlist on Amazon (Screenshot)

Other items listed include rubbers, rulers, and ballpoint pens.

The request list emerged after parent Catherine del Campo flagged the Prime Minister, the Maidenhead MP.

She wrote on Twitter: “In your constituency, @theresa_may, a school not just asking parents for extras, but basic essentials.

“As well as loo roll, I’ve sent some plasters.

“I thought about sending some to @DamianHinds too, but they didn’t have one big enough for the gaping hole in the education budget.”

The school told the local paper that it had lost £70,000 after the Government decided to reduce the Education Services grant.

It said in a statement: “The Amazon wish list is something we put together in response to our parents asking for ways in which they can support our school further.

“We have had many deliveries already and are grateful to have such a supportive school community.

“Whilst reduced school funding is naturally a concern, we are in the fortunate position of being able to balance our budget for the next few years.”

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Regrettably we are not surprised to hear that a school is asking parents to buy it toilet rolls.

“The state of school funding is putting heads in the invidious position of having to ask parents to fill their budget gaps.

“Schools should not have to be scrabbling around for basic resources or equipment or having to ask for donations for essential items or repairs.

“The Government urgently needs to address the £2.8 billion real-terms cuts to school funding to stop this situation escalating.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, added: “That schools are struggling to buy such basics as toilet roll just shows how much financial pressure they are under.

“School budgets are at absolute breaking point. School leaders have made all the obvious savings – now they are faced with having to turn to parents for help.

“This ought to ring serious alarm bells for the Government.”

It is not the first time a school in Mrs May’s constituency has asked parents for help with supplies.

Last November, the Robert Piggott Church of England primary school in Wargrave, Berkshire, sent out a letter asking for a £1-a-day voluntary contribution to help pay for pens, pencils and books.

It said “national changes to school funding” meant they had to request voluntary donations to make up the shortfall.

During a surprise visit to a street in Sutton, south London, in January, the Prime Minister had to reassure a resident about funding concerns after he told her his teacher daughter had to use her own money to buy things for school.

One in five teachers polled in a survey of National Education Union members earlier this year said their school has asked parents for money to help with funding.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Core school funding will rise to a record £43.5 billion by 2020 – the highest ever – and 50% more per pupil in real terms than in 2000.

“In fact, this year a typical primary class will get £130,000.

“We are giving every local authority more money for every school in 2018-19 and 2019-20, with schools in Maidenhead and Windsor gaining £2 million overall once the national funding formula is implemented in full.

“We are absolutely clear that no parent can be required to make financial contributions to a school and all schools must make clear that any requests for donations are voluntary.”

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