An Ossett school has come under fire from a teaching union for suggesting pupils could be charged for activities related to their studies and lunchtime clubs.
Gawthorpe Community Academy insisted its charging policy was designed to give it “flexibility” to meet the needs of its students and would not disadvantage poorer pupils.
The policy, highlighted by Exaro, the investigative website, www.exaronews.com, makes it possible for the school to charge for activities that are “an essential part of the national curriculum” in some circumstances.
It also suggests the school could charge for activities taking place “mainly” outside school hours.
School business manager Karen Josse said the law permitted the school to charge for items such as board and lodgings on field trips.
“We would never charge for any activities that are part of the curriculum.
“When we drafted this policy we wanted it to have the flexibility to meet the demand from pupils if, for example, they wanted a karate club that they couldn’t access after school hours.
“If we consulted pupils and mum and dad were happy to pay we wanted the policy to have the flexibility to do that.”
Academies have more freedom than local authority schools but they are supposed to follow Government guidelines on charging.
Darren Northcott, national officer for education at the NASUWT union, said: “This is the first time that I have seen a school say that we can charge you for activities that take place during lunch breaks.
“Will there be one part of the school where those children who have paid go and do the activity, and children whose parents have not paid are in another? There will, in effect, be some sort of apartheid within the school.”
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