St. Winifred’s Catholic Primary  School

Policy on Charging for School Activities

Introduction:

All education and education related activities are, of course, provided free of charge. The only activities for which a charge is made are:

  • After school clubs, which are entirely voluntary and not linked to the school curriculum
  • Transport, Board and lodging for residential school journeys
  • Music – small group instrument tuition

However, the school budget is limited and there are some activities which we offer to enrich our teaching and offer the children a wide variety of learning experiences that cost the school money. We ask for voluntary contributions for these activities to allow the limited funds available to the school to be spent on other things to directly benefit the children such as teaching and support staff, equipment and furniture.

Throughout this policy the term ‘activities’ is used to include school trips both residential and non-residential, visits to indoor and outdoor venues.

Principles:

  • The school will never seek to make a profit from charging for activities offered to the children
  • We believe that all children are entitled to take part in all the activities we offer and we will not exclude any child on the basis of non-payment of requested contribution
  • Where there is a shortfall in meeting the cost of an activity from voluntary contributions the school will seek to subsidise the trip from either
  1. Fund raising or grants etc..
  2. School budget monies that would otherwise be spent on other teaching and learning priorities
  • The focus of all activities will be on learning and all activities will be selected to support the curriculum
  • The safety of the children and accompanying adults is of paramount importance and will never be compromised in the interest of cost saving
  • We will seek to use public transport wherever practical for reasons of cost and sustainability
  • Children will be offered a variety of activities over the course of their schooling that will fulfil their cultural entitlement
  • Reasonable costs will be a consideration in choice of activities and we will seek to offer a balance between charged and free activities

Voluntary contribution for activities

The total cost of an activity will be calculated by the member of staff organising the activity. This will consist of any transport costs, activity costs and will include the costs for accompanying adults.

This total cost will then be divided between the total number of children who will be eligible to participate in the activity and parents/ carers will be asked to contribute this amount of money.

If there is a shortfall between the cost of the activity and the total amount of contributions made wherever possible the school will make up this shortfall from the curriculum budget (accepting that corresponding savings will have to be made elsewhere). In some instances it might be necessary to cancel an activity if insufficient voluntary contributions are made.

Pupil Premium

Pupils in receipt of Pupil Premium will be funded for all school activities, music, after school clubs, trips and residentials. The receipt of Pupil Premium is for some families a sensitive issue and some may want to make a voluntary contribution to the school.  In this instance the parent should meet with the Headteacher to discuss.

Other areas where charges may be made:

Before and After School Clubs

The same non-profit principle will apply. The cost of coaching / materials will be calculated and divided between participants.

Deliberate damage

Where a child deliberately damages property or the fabric of the building parents will be asked to pay the cost of repair or replacement

Refunds

If a child is unable to attend an activity for any reason , any contribution made will not be refundable if the activity is still taking place and if the school still has to pay the cost for that child’s attendance at the activity.

Reviewed October 2020

Remission Policy

Any money owed to school has an impact on the budget and may affect the resources we can provide to all children. We hope that parents understand this and will make every effort to avoid owing the school money.

The school will take all reasonable measures to vigorously collect debts as part of its management of public funds. A debt will be written off or passed onto an external debt collection agency. only after all reasonable measures (commensurate with the size and nature of the debt) have been taken to recover it.

The school’s debt recovery policy will observe the relevant financial regulations and guidance set out in the Academies Financial Handbook and any other legal requirements

Acceptable ‘credit period’

The Full Governing Body has determined that one half term is an acceptable ‘credit settlement period’ before the debt recovery procedures are applied.

Reporting of outstanding debt levels

The Head teacher will ensure that the level of outstanding debt is regularly monitored.

Suitable records will be maintained to detail individual debts and the total value of debt to the school in order that it can be determined at any time and reported to the Finance Committee and/or Governing Body. The Resources Committee and/or Governing Body will review the level of outstanding debts every term to determine whether this level is acceptable and whether action to recover debts is effective.

Debt Recovery Procedures

Where payment from the parent/guardian has not been received in advance, or ‘at the point of sale’, the following process should be applied:

Initial ‘overdue payment’ reminder

An initial reminder may be informal and can be made either in person (when a parent/guardian comes to collect/drop off the child), or by telephone. The date of the initial reminder should be recorded.

In the case of school meals a reminder of any monies outstanding is sent home on a Friday.

First ‘overdue payment’ reminder letter

A formal reminder letter is issued 2 weeks after the informal reminder. If action is to proceed further, it is necessary to prove that all reasonable attempts have been made to recover the debt, and that these attempts have been made in a timely manner, i.e. at the time that the debt first became overdue.

The date of the initial reminder letter should be recorded.

In the case of school meals, if the debt is not settled on the following school day then we will be unable to provide your child with a school dinner and you must provide a packed lunch or take your child home for dinner. If a child comes to school without clearing the debt and requires a hot meal then the School Office will telephone the parents to make alternative arrangements for lunchtime. If the parent does not do

this then the school may refer the family to Social Services under our child protection procedures.

Second ‘overdue payment’ reminder letter

A second reminder letter will be issued 2 weeks after the First Reminder Letter.

The date of the second reminder letter should be recorded.

Failure to respond to reminders / settle a debt

If there is no response to the second ‘overdue payment’ reminder letter the debtor will be invited to meet a member of the Governing Body to discuss how the debt will be settled. Failure to respond to this letter and/or failure to attend this meeting will result in the school passing the debt to an external debt collection agency.

The Governing Body will make every effort to work with parents to prevent debts mounting. At the discretion of The Finance Committee and/or Governing Body an official invoice may be issued for the full amount.

The debtor may be advised that they will be required to pay in advance for all future supplies and services or the supply will no longer be available to them.

This decision and its basis will be recorded and reported to the Finance Committee and/or Governing Body.

If a mutual agreement cannot be reached or if any agreed repayment is missed then the debt will be transferred directly to an external debt collector. This is currently Harley Legal & Collections Ltd.

Negotiation of repayment terms

Debtors are expected to settle the amount owed by a single payment as soon as possible after receiving the first ‘overdue payment’ reminder. Failure to meet any repayment terms will result in the debt being passed to an external debt collection agency.

If people are unable to pay

The School may reduce or cancel a debt in certain circumstances. A sensitive approach to debt recovery will be carried out, taking the following factors into account.

 Hardship – where paying the debt would cause financial hardship.

 Ill health – where our recovery action might cause further ill health.

 Time – where the debt is so large compared to the person’s income that it would take an unreasonable length of time to pay it all off.

 Cost – where the value of the debt is less than the cost of recovering it.

 Multiple debts – where someone owes more than one debt to the School. In this situation an attempt to agree one repayment plan to include all debts will be established.

Debtors are expected to settle the amount owed by a single payment as soon as possible after receiving the first ‘overdue payment’ reminder. If a debtor requests for ‘repayment terms’ these may be negotiated at the discretion of the Finance Committee and/or Governing Body.

A record of all such agreements entered into will be retained.

In all cases, a letter will be issued to the debtor confirming the agreed terms for repayment. The settlement period should be the shortest that is judged reasonable.

The Finance Committee and/or Governing Body will decide whether any debtor who has been granted extended settlement terms will not be offered any further ‘credit’ and will, in future, be required to pay in advance. This decision and its basis will be recorded and reported to the Finance Committee and/or Governing Body.

Costs of debt recovery

Where the school incurs material additional costs in recovering a debt then the Finance Committee and/or Governing Body will decide whether to seek to recover such costs from the debtor. The debtor will be formally advised in writing that they will be required to pay the additional costs incurred by the school in recovering the debt. This decision and its basis will be recorded and reported to the Resources Committee and/or Governing Body.

Bad debts

Write-off of any debt over the value of £500 requires the written approval of the Finance Committee, debts over the value of £500 will be referred to the Full Governing Body.

A record of the write-off, the reason for it, and the approval for it, will be retained for 7 years.

January 2021