Report highlights disproportionate voluntary action in Kent schools

19 December 2016

A new report examining volunteering and fundraising in Kent primary schools suggests that an increasing number of schools are relying on volunteers and fundraised income to help compensate for depleting budgets.

To Bridge the Gap? Voluntary Action in Primary Schools questions the extent to which voluntary support and donations differ in Kent schools, on the basis that Kent is made up of some of the most, and the least, deprived areas of the UK.

The report found that voluntary contributions, whether it is time or money, varies greatly between schools, and the report suggests that this variation is affected by a number of factors including; school size, location and socio-economic differences. Schools in more affluent areas of the county are more likely to have additional resources than those in the most deprived areas.

On average Kent primary schools currently receive around 12.5 minutes of volunteering time per child, per week. However, schools within the top 10% of disadvantaged areas recorded that each child has less than 5 minutes of volunteer time per child, per week, whereas schools in the most advantaged areas recorded an average of 27 minutes per child.

Alison Body is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Early Childhood Sciences at Canterbury Christ Church University and co-author of the report with Kerry Holman, also a Senior Lecturer in the School, and Eddy Hogg, Lecturer in the Centre for Philanthropy in the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research at the University of Kent.

Alison, said: “This report celebrates the role that volunteers and fundraising activities play in the education of children and young people; the commitment, passion, skills and expertise brought into schools by volunteers, and the advantages that additional funding can bring. However, any level of reliance on voluntary action in primary education results in an uneven playing field.”

The report identifies that schools are now increasingly turning to voluntary action to help counter balance funding short-falls, with the levels of reliance on voluntary action in primary education increasing.

Donations and charitable giving is another area in which primary school success varies across the county. The report found that primary schools on average reported raising £43 per child per year. Schools with 100 pupil or less raised £63 per pupil per year compared with £27 per pupil for schools with over 100 pupils. Schools with a higher proportion of pupils entitled to Free School Meals (over 35%), raised on average £15.70 per pupil, per year.

Some primary schools attract significantly more donated income, in a number of cases over £100,000, and volunteer time than others and have quite sophisticated fundraising and volunteer management systems in place. However, even where these are implemented and where a school’s senior leadership support the principle of soliciting voluntary action, inequalities in terms of who has access to funds and volunteer effort persist.

Alison, continued: “Further policy changes which encourage more schools to solicit more voluntary action will likely result in the widening of inequalities in education.”

The report includes practical tips and examples for schools wishing to increase their volunteering hours and donations. Read the full report on Canterbury Christ Church University’s website.  

Notes to Editor

Canterbury Christ Church University

Canterbury Christ Church University is a modern university with a particular strength in higher education for the public services.

With 17,000 students across Kent and Medway, its courses span a wide range of academic and professional subject areas.

  • 95% of our UK undergraduates were in employment or further studies six months after completing their studies*.
  • We are one of the South East’s largest providers of education, training and skills leading to public service careers.

*2013/14 Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey


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Last edited: 04/12/2017 23:49:00