24 Jan 2019

School drops donations, provides stationery to pupils

7:45 pm on 24 January 2019

An Auckland primary school has stopped asking parents for an annual donation and is providing every pupil's stationery to help ease the financial burden on families.

Rowandale School in Manurewa

Rowandale School in Manurewa Photo: RNZ / Brooke Jenner

It is joining others in calling on the government to fulfill its promise to financially support schools that stop asking for donations.

Most state schools seek a voluntary donation from pupils, with the amount of pressure on parents to pay varying between schools.

Rowandale School in Manurewa this month joined a small number of schools no longer asking for a donation - and went further by picking up the stationery tab.

The principal of Rowandale School, Karl Vasau, said he was surprised at the reaction.

School stationery will be provided directly to pupils at Rowandale School.

School stationery will be provided directly to pupils at Rowandale School. Photo: RNZ / Brooke Jenner

"I didn't realise how much this would affect familes. For them to say 'this is so cool'... and this has taken one thing away that they used to stress about."

When it did ask for full donations, the school had actually received very few anyway and made a $13000 loss from the stationery bought to sell to parents every year, he said.

So it decided to just take the full hit.

"Everybody is going to be on the same playing field. They are going to start day one fully equipped," Mr Vasau said.

Labour campaigned on ditching school donations, saying it would give $150 per pupil to any school that chose not to ask for them.

But that had not evenuated.

Mr Vasau said although Rowandale was well funded by the government, that $150 would allow it to also pay for things like uniforms and school trips to help families even more.

In West Auckland, decile three Pomaria School still charged a donation of $60, the same it had been for years, but only a small percentage of parents paid.

The principal Kevin Choromanski said many schools like his were hoping the government will make good.

"We've heard the promise ... so we're all waiting in anticipation for the action to take place. It will definitely lighten the burden on some of our parents, especially at the start of the academic year."

The principal of Finlayson Park School in Manurewa, Shirley Maihi said they asked for $20 per family for a donation and did not believe Labour's promised money was coming.

"If it does it will be a bonus but I don't believe we're able to put our eggs in that basket."

Education minister Chris Hipkins said he could not comment on the specifics of the upcoming budget but the government was still committed to its school donations policy.

The government was aware that the start of the school year could be difficult and its Families Package, which gave some families an extra $75 a week in the last budget would help, he said.