TALKING HEADS OUR PATCH SPRING 2018 Pupils from St Peter’s CofE Primary, plus left: John Horton and Karen Frazer, and right: Imogen Lavelle BANK OF PARENT POWER T With school budgets under pressure it’s parents who are stepping up. Headteachers Karen Frazer, of St Peter’s in Hammersmith, and Imogen Lavelle, of The Good Shepherd in Shepherds Bush, share their views he new-look playground at St Peter’s CofE Primary is a good example of the growing importance of parents fundraising efforts. Karen – who has been headteacher at the school in St Peter’s Road for almost three years and overseen its Ofsted rating climbing from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’ – explained: “The cost is around £65,000, and as we don’t have that, we rely on support from parents, and from local businesses such as Horton and Garton, who have been very generous.” Parent funding is crucial for the project to succeed and one of the main fundraising events is a big auction on March 22. Is there no official funding stream for something basic like playground equipment? “I’m afraid it doesn’t work like that,” Karen said. “We also need new fencing around the playground. Parents are more willing to fundraise for things that their children will use. “Parents’ contributions are important because you don’t know what will happen to budgets in future,” said Karen who has been in teaching for 20 years. “If you want something extra, you do rely on parents. “Budgets get cut, but things don’t get any less expensive. You reach a certain standard at the school, and you don’t want that to fall. In a way, you can almost never raise enough; it always comes back to the children.” The Good Shepherd has its own financial challenges. Imogen’s budget has taken a real-terms cut of £130,000 over the past two years. So she and her governing body have had to think of imaginative ways to cut costs while retaining the same breadth of education for their 247 pupils. “We had to look at drama, music, French, art, cooking – which are all additional costs,” said Imogen. “They all had to be trimmed back. All local headteachers are waiting to hear what the government’s new funding formula will mean. So far, parents here haven’t had to dig into their pockets to provide books and stationery like some other schools – thank goodness.” Imogen, who has led the Gayford Road Catholic primary for the past three years, said another source of funding to improve the school facilities came from a new PTA called the Friends of Good Shepherd. “We’ve started to engage past as well as current pupils and parents of the school.” The Friends organise various events to raise funds including seasonal fairs, a bingo night, a school disco and a very popular Spring Ball, supported by Horton and Garton. Money raised will help to equip a classroom dedicated to the arts. “The whole school community is working together to protect and enhance The Good Shepherd. Our parents are very committed and view it as a second home for their children,” Imogen added.