COUNTY NEWS: Pupils asked to bring in their own loo roll to school

A cash-strapped Sussex primary school is asking pupils to bring in their own loo rolls.

Left to right Leo Harvey, 5, his dad Nick Harvey, 45, and Felix Harvey, 8 outside St John's Primary School in Crowborough. Photo from SWNS SUS-170331-140552001
Left to right Leo Harvey, 5, his dad Nick Harvey, 45, and Felix Harvey, 8 outside St John's Primary School in Crowborough. Photo from SWNS SUS-170331-140552001

Shocked mums and dads were sent a letter inviting kids to help out with ‘non-essential’ items including glue sticks, pencils, sellotape and envelopes.

It also suggested that on the special non-uniform day children could bring in toilet roll – the cost of which has to be ‘rigorously monitored’.

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The letter from Laura Cooper, head of St John’s Primary School in Crowborough, invited parents to a meeting about the financial future of the school.

Tables covered in donations of school essentials which were gifted to St John's Primary School in Crowborough. Photo from SWNS SUS-170331-140523001

It read: “In addition we will be holding a non-uniform day on Thursday - instead of donating money we would like the children to bring in various ‘essential’ items such as stationary (e.g. glue sticks, pencils, blutack, boxes of tissues, sellotape etc) and of course loo rolls!”

Mrs Cooper had earlier written to families warning, “The cost of resources such as toilet rolls now has to be rigorously monitored alongside the progress and achievement of the pupils.”

The school, rated ‘good’ by Ofsted, had 210 pupils enrolled and was praised by the education watchdog for “a very strong family-orientated culture.”

Mrs Cooper said: “The parents have been really supportive with children bringing in things, then we are not needing to spend money on those items and can direct money into specialist areas.

“We can enhance extra-curricular activities, we don’t charge for after-school clubs because we want things to be inclusive, we run a lot of things on the goodwill of staff, but there are cost implications for the transportation of children to tournaments and competitions.

“I have been here quite a long time, for me it is a shame that it has got like this. I just think it is really hard doing the job we are expected to do.

“There are different grants being removed, we have children with mental health problems and all these services have been removed from the local authority. The school are having to provide them as well as teaching the children.”

Around £500 worth of goods were stacked up on a table in the school as parents took the message to heart during their weekly grocery shop.

Mrs Cooper, who has been head teacher at the school for 13 years, said: “We have had a really positive response from everyone, they know what we are trying to manage, and we are being open and honest about it.”

Staff at the school provide their own tea and coffee in the staff room to help manage the budget, despite promises of a £42 billion budget by 2019-2020.

Chairman of the governors Jason Sadler said: “Everyone has been shocked, it’s not just ‘poor St John’s’, it is all schools - real-term cuts are causing a massive problem.

“I think a lot of parents aren’t aware, it is designed to really shock people, to remind them that loo rolls and soap don’t just appear in the toilets, they have to be paid for.”

He said staff had been united in agreeing they had to address the problem, and were considering holding other similar events.

Father-of-two Nick Harvey took his sons Felix, eight, and Leo, five, to school armed with packets of toilet paper, and said: “I was shocked when I got the letter.

“To me the education of my kids is the most important thing. It is the little extra supplies that are required that help.

“Without resources, without toilet rolls, pencils, glue sticks, paper, our children can’t be educated.

“Recently the school was fundraising for a third world school, for similar things. I would rather my children had a well-rounded education with extra-curricular activities than had to blow their noses on the carpet.

“We can’t continue like this.”