A primary school is under fire for giving out badges which
identify whether students have had their voluntary donation
Whangaparaoa Primary School, in northern Auckland, gave out
the "2014 Donation Paid" badges upon payment of the donation,
which is $155 for one child, reduced to $140 if paid in full
by the end of next month.
The system has been criticised heavily on a local community
Facebook page as effectively shaming young children whose
parents have not paid.
Most schools ask for donations, and tens of millions are paid
by parents each year. But schools cannot legally force
parents to pay.
Tristan Dean, chairman of the board of trustees at the decile
9 school, said it was the board's collective decision to
provide the tags.
"They were not printed specifically as 'bag tags' for
children, although this is obviously one possible way for
them to be used, it's entirely up to the parent.
"There was never any intention to bully anyone or create
different 'classes' of students based on those whose parents
had paid a donation and those who hadn't, although I can
understand why some parents see this as a concern."
Mr Dean said the school recognised that some families
couldn't afford to pay a donation.
"It was always the intention that if any such families felt
that they wanted a tag for any reason, they could
confidentially contact anyone at the school and receive one,
no questions asked.
"It is the significant number of families that choose not to
pay the donation when they can afford to that we are really
trying to encourage and we've tried all sorts of softer
methods historically with very limited success."
One resident told the Herald the policy had created a huge
stir. She believed other local schools were using a similar
"Families come in various forms and from various backgrounds
and not everyone can afford it, even if you do pay weekly.
"Why take this out on the kids? Just a suggestion but why
don't the parents who paid refuse to display the label?"
Ministry of Education guidelines say schools can charge fees
for take-home items, activities or events that enhance
teaching of the curriculum, as long as parents are told
beforehand and agree to pay.
Mr Dean said the board would be listening to feedback from
parents on the tag scheme.
"Was the tag idea the right approach in trying to increase
donation levels? Maybe not, and that is something we'll be
looking at closely over the next few days."
Other schools, including Avondale College in Auckland, have
put in place measures such as banning students from
non-paying families from extra-curricular activities such as
the school ball.
An earlier post on Whangaparaoa School's Facebook page
outlined to parents why the donation was important.
"Like most other schools, we rely on your donations to help
support the learning and improve the quality of resources
that are available for your children.
"The latest funding figures show we are actually funded
approx $843 LESS per student per year than a decile 1 school.
"Donations from parents help us make up a bit of this lack of
funding, as do fundraising efforts by our wonderful PTA.
Thank you for helping us to buy vital learning equipment."
- Nicholas Jones of the New Zealand Herald