Parents say they are 'disgusted' at having to raise money towards new school toilets. The state of the loos at Lane End Primary - with broken parts and a lack of privacy - is said to be so bad that children 'are refusing to go' at school and waiting until they get home.
But with limited funding for 'capital projects', the school, in Cheadle Hulme, Stockport, says its budget won't stretch to a refurbishment of the facilities and has worked with the PTA to set a £50k target for families to raise over the next few years - starting with a £10k target to complete phase one, the junior toilets.
A message sent to parents from the PTA says: "Why are we helping to pay for a refurbishment? Well, the school's budget just won’t cover the entire cost. Lane End receives a very low level of funding per child (in fact they are one of the lowest funded schools in Stockport), mainly due to the area school is in and the fact that very few children receive free school meals.
"School barely has enough money in their budget to pay for staffing costs, energy costs, and resources so they wouldn't ever have a large enough sum of money to pay for a large project."
Sharing the fundraising plans in the school newsletter, headteacher Claire Love said: "All of our fundraising this year is going towards funding new toilets across the school. As a school, we receive just over £6,000 a year for any capital projects we need to undertake. This funding is nowhere near enough to cover work to a building that is over 50 years old.
"We always talk to the children about improvements they would like to see in school and revamping the toilets is definitely their main priority. I am well aware that it is not the most exciting thing to be raising money for. However, your help with fundraising means that we can install new toilets across the school over the next few years which otherwise would be a job we would never have the funds to do.
"We now have a ‘Toilet Totaliser’ displayed in the hall so that the children can see how well they have been doing with their fundraising. Thank you for all of your help with fundraising so far."
A parent told us that many families at the school are unhappy with the plans, especially those with children in the older years who won't even benefit from the work.
The mum said: "As a parent who has paid tax and council tax for many years, I would expect my children to be able to access basic facilities like a decent toilet in a state funded school. It is absolutely shocking that we are having to fundraise for what should be a basic human right.
"I am sure the toilet situation is having a negative impact on the children who just don’t want to use the toilets. They are refusing to go at school, and are then desperate to go when they get home. This is a really unhealthy thing to do for many reasons. Imagine how you would feel if your place of work didn’t provide reasonable toilet facilities."
Another parent agreed, describing the situation as 'disgusting'.
They said: "With the last couple of years of Covid and the current cost of living increase, people just don’t have extra money to donate. It’s not a particularly affluent catchment but is one of the poorest funded schools in Stockport.
"A school from a disadvantaged area ended up donating some books last year as they had so much funding in comparison but they can’t donate a toilet. The roof needs repairing too but that’s clearly not going to happen any time soon."
Tim Bowman, director of education at Stockport Council, said: “While the condition of our school buildings is a priority in Stockport, capital funding for school maintenance is allocated to Local Authorities (LA) by central government. As such, it is necessary to focus investment in key areas such as roofing, heating and electrical systems.
"In recent years the LA has made more than £300,000 capital investment in Lane End School to keep it operating securely and safely, with a full rewire, new boiler and fan convectors. Schools are responsible for day-to-day maintenance of the buildings.”
The Manchester Evening News has approached the school for a comment.
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