My fricking God people.
Can you remember the days when going to school meant learning about Annie Apple and Bouncy Ben, when it was Biff Chip and Kipper and a wonky old TV on wheels for wet breaks? The simpler times when an after school club or Lunchtime activity was run by a teacher with a tape recorder, and cost about 50p. The days when the most a parent would fork out per year aside from uniform was a fiver?
Well, it would appear that those days are well and truly over my friends. Or they are if The Brat's school is anything to go by.
Mini is in Year 1, and Littlest (when he's well enough) is in FS2. FS2 is quite quiet, they go on one trip to the theatre in December and that's about all.
Year 1 though is when the "open wallet on entry" Robin Hood style of school money grabbing really kicks up a gear to a shocking level.
So far this year, we have had the Lunchtime clubs which change every ten weeks. Mini wanted to do Zumba the first term, which cost £30.
£30! Apparently they had to get someone in from outside the school. Even though Zumba is, effectively, dancing round like a tit to Now 89.
Then we have cooking money. £4 for the year (a relative drop in the cash grab ocean).
Then it was Christmas, so we had the theatre trip (£9), and the Bazaar that they moan at the kids to go to from October until the first weekend in December, which includes a Santa's Grotto (a Dad dressed in a Poundland outfit),grubby toys, and the piss poorest food in the world for lunch (altogether about £25).
We also had the school play (£5 and we couldn't bring Littlest, meaning I had to go twice).
After Christmas, we were told about swimming for the winter term (I still maintain swimming is a summer activity, they were frozen after it). Ten weeks at £50.50. (When I was at school, it was 50p a session, including coach).
Mini decided at Christmas not to do a lunchtime club, she wanted to go for outside dance lessons where my eldest niece has gone. Except the school "let" her go to zumba again. I have no idea as to what happened exactly, one person said Mini moaned and they gave in, another said they'd mixed up the list and got her going again by mistake. Which meant I was bitched at in front of other Mums for not having paid for the zumba class. You know, the one I never agreed to, signed anything to allow her to go for that term. That's another £30.
This term, she's doing sewing club. I don't mind her doing it as it's a life skill, but again, it's run by a teacher and it's-you guessed it- £30.
They took it to a whole new level the last fortnight though.
They brought a letter home saying last Wednesday was "Puzzle Day" and they'd be having a small sale of some puzzles in the school hall for around 75p.
What really happened was that the entire school got pressure sold by an outside company for a whole day, playing with over priced plastic tat games. Which all day long they were told again and again to come to the school hall and buy.
Cost of these games, which from what I saw had no educational content at all (Mini played with one all day that has penguins that zoom down a snowy mountain. Very educational. Not sure how that fits in with the three Rs). It was £25! Not 75 bloody pence.
And, not only that, when Elder got in the hall, both Mini and Littlest ran for the top price table as that's what they'd played with all day. Problem was, I'd given him about a fiver in change as we'd been told the games were 75p, tops. He bought a workbook for Mini (which are in Poundland, I know as I've bought her them before) which cost a fiver, and two pens which lasted a day then broke for £2 each. He had both of them upset over the other games. As did other parent's who did not look impressed.
In February, Year 1 did a dance performance with other schools, and we weren't allowed more than one ticket so I went. You weren't allowed cameras either as it was being professionally filmed. Cost of DVD? £8.
I expected a nice boxed DVD, perhaps with the schools names on.
I waited from February until yesterday for the sodding thing, even starting a case on PayPal when no one knew if they were ever going to appear. They usually, apparently turn up at the end of March.
No wonder. It's shit. Basically. They have ruined a memory of Mini dancing for the Mayor. The film looks like it was shot on a camera phone from 2002. It's blurry, heads are cut off, it zooms in on 4 kids and misses the rest. Mini cried. Then, on the finale when the kids all danced on and were announced, this supposed "professional" decided to completely cut the bit where Mini's school ran on. Despite there being 11 other schools, which he did not cut.
I emailed and apparently, he had to get a friend in that day. Sorry. I got my money back, but it's a joke, right?
Finally, we had the "Art Exhibition" on Monday. Which was £7 per picture. From our own kids at school, in Poundshop frames, with a bit of card in that doesn't even have their name or their year on. Which meant £14 for us as all the kids did one. You couldn't remove the pictures either on the day, the ones you'd just paid for, that only you'd be bothered by, because it would "ruin the ambiance."
I kid you not. We're talking a few haphazard splodges of paint and glitter in a frame in the school hall here, people, not the bloody Tate. As I remarked to one parent who looked as bemused as me "I ruin the ambiance of the Brats artwork every recycling day when I bin a load".
I have now asked Mini's teacher if they can just chill with the cash grabbing for at least a term, but she reminded class and individual pictures are coming up soon (£10 for class, £12 for individual, in our case twice as both the Brats have one).
I know schools need to do what they can, but this just seems daft to me.
Is it just our school, or is yours just as bad, or, heaven forbid, worse?