Parentkind Parent Voice Report demonstrates the negative impact financial pressures are having on both families and schools


Parentkind’s Parent Voice Report 2021 provides new detailed evidence of parents' views on school funding, the cost of sending children to school and the impact of tight school budgets on education. The seventh wave of the charity’s annual parent survey results are broken down into a wider range of demographics, providing a snapshot of parental opinion across diverse communities.

Key findings

  • Parents say that the financial pressure on both schools and household budgets continues to grow, with low income families especially burdened
  • More than half of parents think that the increasing pressure on school budgets is negatively impacting their child’s education 
  • During the pandemic there has been a sharp increase (from 14% to 20%) in parents’ concern over the cost of supplying technology to support their child’s learning. Technology has moved up the list to their third biggest financial concern behind only school uniforms and school trips.

Donations to the school fund

  • 45% of parents have been asked to contribute to the school fund with 38% doing so. That’s the highest percentage of requests and contributions the survey has seen in 6 years
  • The mean donation given to the school fund has risen to its highest level yet this year at £11.62 per month, up £1.62 from 2020 and £3.47 from 2019
  • Those from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) background, those with a disability, those eligible for free school meals (FSM) and those with a child with special educational needs or disabilities (SEND) are likelier to report being asked to contribute to the school fund
  • Parents with a child eligible for FSM are not only likelier to be asked to donate to the school fund but are also likelier to do so as a result and contribute more, despite 65% of those parents saying they are concerned about the cost of sending their children to school.

The cost of sending a child to school

  • 73% of parents agree the cost of sending children to school is increasing 
  • For families eligible for FSM, who are most likely to be under financial pressure we found higher levels of agreement that the cost of sending children to school is increasing (80%)
  • Parents are divided on whether the cost of sending their children to school is acceptable with 49% deeming it so and 49% saying they are concerned
  • Parents with a child eligible for FSM were likelier to report concern for school uniform costs (41% compared with 36%) and technology (26% compared with 19%).

Impact of school funding on education delivery

  • 55% of parents feel that the increasing pressure on school budgets is negatively impacting their child’s education
  • The perception of this negative impact on their child’s education is higher among men, younger parents, parents from BAME backgrounds, and those based in London. This perception of negative impact has also significantly increased over time, suggesting a more intense environment of increasing costs and budgetary pressures which are viewed by many as detrimental to their child’s education
  • The demographics perceiving the strongest negative impact on their child’s education – with 30% or more selecting ‘significantly’ – were those with a child with SEND, those eligible for FSM, those based in London and those living with a disability.

Quote from Parentkind CEO John Jolly. "Our Parent Voice Report 2021 starkly demonstrates the double whammy of increasing financial pressures on both families and schools. The spiraling cost of living on top of the increasing cost of schooling is having a worrying impact on many parents’ finances.  At the same time tight school budgets, according to parents, are negatively impacting on many schools’ ability to deliver a first rate education.  Parents will welcome the recently announced additional funding for education and the new DFE guidance to reduce the cost of school uniform, but they will wait to see the impact on the ground.  Parents show a generous willingness to support their child’s school with 38% of them now donating to the school fund, the highest level we have seen in 6 years. Those least able to afford it are both being asked to contribute more often and are giving larger donations.  Our research has found that parents of children with SEND have struggled disproportionately to ensure their children receive the education they are entitled to and deserve. They will welcome the announcement of additional funding for special educational needs and disabilities but will be more concerned about their child’s day to day school experience. We urge policymakers to consult with parents on issues like school funding, and give them a say in how their child's education is affected, as well as how they would like to see any additional funding allocated."

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