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School Activity Charging Guidance

Introduction

Leicestershire County Council has provided guidance for schools and parents regarding the different aspects of charges for schools’ activities. This derives from the Education Act 1996 which describes the regulations further.
The Local Authority does not get involved with individual disputes; its role is to advise all parties and to give information. It is the responsibility of the school to interpret these rules appropriately. If you feel that your child’s school has not followed these regulations, you will need to raise it with the school directly.

Summary

The following is a summary of the regulations.
  • Schools may not charge for any activities which take place in school time except for instrumental and vocal teaching.
  • Schools must draw up a Charging Policy which may be more or less generous than the Local Authority Policy.
  • Schools may invite parents and others to make voluntary contributions towards any aspect of the school’s work, for example towards the cost of a trip or a specific activity.
  • Schools may charge for activities that are provided wholly or mainly outside school hours as long as these are ‘optional extras’ (for example after school recreational or sporting clubs).
  • Schools may charge for board and lodging on residential courses.
  • Schools can charge for music tuition.
  • Pupils, whose parents are in receipt of certain benefits, do not have to pay for board or lodgings on residential courses.
  • Schools may make a charge for materials or ingredients when art work, design work or food completed in school is taken home.
  • Schools may charge for examination entries in a subject  in which the school has not prepared the pupil or when a pupil has not completed any necessary coursework required by the syllabus.

Music Tuition

  • The provision of tuition in the playing of a musical instrument is an exception to the above rule and subject to the charges for Music Tuition (England) Regulations 2007).
  • A charge may be made in respect of tuition (whether provided individually or to a group of two or more pupils) if it is provided at the request of the pupil’s parents.
  • For the purposes of this regulation, tuition is not provided at the request of the pupil’s parent if it is either
    • education provided in pursuance of a duty imposed by Section 88 of the Education Act 2002 (2) (implementation of the National Curriculum for England), or
    • education provided to a class of pupils in the second key stage, pursuant to the Department of Education and Skills’ Policy (Instrumental and Vocal Tuition at KS2) where the purpose of the education is to enable pupils to decide whether they wish to receive further tuition in singing or playing any musical instrument (and if so which instrument)
  • No charge may be made in respect of a pupil who is looked after by the Local Authority.
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Voluntary contributions

  • Whilst schools cannot, as a matter of course, charge for activities during school time they may still invite parents and carers (and others) to make voluntary contributions in cash or in kind to make school funds go further, for example volunteering their time. (Volunteers may have to be CRB checked, please see What Should I Check? for more information.
  • All requests to parents for voluntary contributions must make it clear that the contributions are voluntary.  
  • Governing Bodies should also make it clear that children of parents who do not contribute voluntarily will not be treated differently from children of parents who do make voluntary contributions and that the child will not be excluded from the activity if a contribution is not made.
  • If a particular activity cannot take place without some help from parents, that should be explained at the planning stage.  Where voluntary contributions are insufficient to make the activity possible and the school is unable to make up a shortfall then the activity must be cancelled.  
  • The intent of the legislation is that no pupil may be left out of an activity because his or her parents or carers cannot or will not make a contribution of any kind.  It is possible, within the legislation, to fund pupils whose parents or carers will not make a voluntary contribution from funds raised through general fundraising.

Fee Remission

  • It must be possible for those who are entitled to free school meals to access fee remission
  • Children in care are entitled to free tuition.
  • Schools will operate their own remission policy for instrumental/vocal tuition in line with the above regulations and guidelines incorporating it into their charging policy.
  • Leicestershire Schools’ Funding forum has asked for guidance from Leicester-Shire Arts in Education so that groups of schools can develop a common policy to ensure equality of access in a locality.
  • Guidance is available on Leicester-Shire Arts in Education website at www.leics.gov.uk/artsined
  • Any charges made should not result in a net surplus or profit:  in other words schools should not buy in tuition at one rate and charge for it at a higher rate.

Education outside school hours

  • Parents may only be charged for activities that happen outside school hours. Where these activities are not a necessary part of the National Curriculum or they form part of the school’s basic curriculum for religious education, such as a visit to a place of worship after school.  
  • In addition, no charge can be made for activities that are an essential part of the syllabus for an approved examination.  A visit to a theatre to see an examination set text in performance may be advantageous but is unlikely to be ‘essential’ or a requirement of a literature syllabus.
  • Charges may be made for other activities that happen outside school hours if parents agree to pay.  The Education Act 1996 describes activities which can be charged for as “optional extras”.  These might include a recreational visit to a pantomime.  It is up to the Governing Body providing the activities to decide whether or not to make a charge.

Charging policy

  • The Governing Body may not charge for anything unless it has drawn up a statement of general policy on charging.  
  • The Governing Body’s policy may be more or less generous than the Local Authority model as long as it meets the requirements of the law.
  • If a charge is to be made for a particular type of activity parents need to know how the charge will be worked out and who might qualify for help with the cost (or even get it free of charge- see below)
  • Parents have a right to ask for this information and a summary must be included in the prospectus published by the school.  If a charge is made for each pupil this should not exceed the actual cost for that pupil.  If further funds need to be raised, for example, to help in hardship cases, this must be by voluntary contributions or general fundraising.
  • The permitted charge may include an allowance for the cost of teachers from the school who supervise the activity, but only if those teachers have been given a separate contract to provide the optional extra.
  • A contract need not be a formal document.  It could be a letter to a teacher asking him or her to provide a service on a particular occasion.
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Policy on Education partly during school hours

  • Some activities may take place partly during and partly outside school hours.  If most of the time spent on a non-residential activity occurs during school hours, that activity counts as taking place entirely in school hours and no charge may be made.
  • Time spent on travel only counts as being during school hours if the travel takes place during school hours.  For example, a long journey might involve much travel before and after normal school hours but if the time spent at the destination fell mainly within school hours the journey (and the activity) would count as happening in school time and therefore have to be free of charge.
  • By contrast, a visit which involved leaving school an hour or so earlier than usual in the afternoon but then went on until quite late in the evening would be classified as taking place outside school time.  Charges would then be allowed.

Residential activities

Leicestershire County Council does not get involved with individual disputes. If you feel that your child’s school has not followed any of the guidance please address your concerns with the school directly.
  • Different rules apply for residential activities.  An activity counts as falling within school time if the number of school sessions missed by the pupils amounts to half or more of the number of half days taken up by the activity.
  • Each school day is normally divided into 2 sessions and each 24 hour period divided into 2 half days beginning at noon and midnight.
  • On this basis, a term time activity from noon on Wednesday to 9.00 pm on Sunday would last for 9 half days including 5 school sessions and would count as taking place in school time.
  • An activity from noon on Thursday to 9.00 pm on Sunday would count as 7 half days, including 3 school sessions, and would be classified for charging as taking place outside school time.  
  • If 50% or more of a half day is spent on a residential activity this should be treated as the whole of that half day spent on the activity.
  • For a residential activity taking place during school time which meets the requirements of the syllabus for a public examination or is to do with a national curriculum or religious education, no charge may be made either for the education or for the cost of travel.
  • However, charges can be made for board and lodging in these circumstances except for pupils whose parents are receiving:  income support; income based job seekers allowance; support under part 6 of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1990; or Child Tax Credit (providing that they do not also receive Working Tax Credit and have an annual income, assessed by the Inland Revenue that does not exceed £16,040 as at July 2010).
  • The Principal/Head teacher should tell all parents of the right to claim free activities if they are receiving these benefits.  Further guidance on how to check the eligibility of children whose families receive tax credits can be found at GOV.UK
  • Children whose parents fall within this category may not be excluded from these activities.

Residential public examination

  • No charges may be made for entering pupils for public examinations that are set out in Regulations.  The Governing Body must enter a pupil for each examination in a public examination syllabus that the school has prepared the pupil for.  
  • This does not need to apply if the governing body thinks there are educational reasons for not entering the pupil or if the pupil’s parents or carers ask in writing that the pupil should not be entered.  The Local Authority may not override the Governing Body’s decision on whether to enter a particular pupil for an examination.

An examination entry fee may be charged to parents if:

  • the examination is on the set list but the pupil was not prepared for it at the school;
  • the examination is not on the set list but the school arranges for the pupil to take it;
  • a pupil fails without good reason to complete the requirements set by the examination board and the Governing Body or Local Authority originally paid or agreed to pay the entry fee.
  • Schools may not however impose charges where the requirements of the examining board have been met.
  • Charges may not be made for any costs associated with preparing a pupil for an examination.  Charging is, however, allowed for tuition and other costs if a pupil is prepared outside school hours for an examination that is not set out in the regulations.
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School Minibuses

  • Only pupils on the roll of the school, staff or parents and carers of those pupils may travel at a charge in the school’s minibus.
  • A school may charge for transport in its minibus only if it holds a permit issued under Section 19 of the Transport Act 1985.  The permit exempts the school from Public Service Vehicles (PSV) operator and driver licensing requirements.
  • A school may not raise funds to make a profit by charging for travel in its minibus.
  • Charges may recover some or all of the costs of running the vehicle including loss of value.  The service may not make a profit either directly through the fares charged or indirectly as part of profit-making activity even if the profit would go to the school’s other running costs or for charitable purposes.  A charge is any payment made in cash or kind by or on behalf of a person which gives him or her a right to be carried.

Further advice & links

Your child’s school is the best place to start if you have queries regarding charging for school activities. You can ask to see the schools’ individual charging policy. Ask to speak to the Headteacher or another appropriate person. If you feel your child’s school has not followed the above guidance, and you wish to complain, please refer to the School complaints process
GOV.UK
School complaints process
Ofsted
governornet
Family information Service Tel:0116 305 6545 or email family
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Page Last Updated: 2 September 2014