School parent councils in the north are spending thousands on basic equipment including new tables and chairs for a canteen and tools for technology classes.
Money from Wick High School’s parent council budget was used to buy new furniture in the old school building last year after children were apparently having to sit on the floor to eat their lunch.
Professor Iain Baikie, school parent council chairman at the time, said between 60 and 100 seats were bought along with a tables using grants from windfarm applicants.
Golspie High School’s parent council chairman John Whitfield also revealed that at the end of 2016, they spent £1,000 on items including a drill and woodworking router, as well as plywood and glue for their technology department.
Mr Whitfield also stressed that the future of the school’s pipe band could be under threat due a lack of funding support for tuition.
The money from parent council budgets is usually set aside for extra-curricular activities such as school trips or educational visits, or one-off extra items and events for the school.
The revelation comes a day after The Press and Journal recently reported that parents spent £15,000 on textbooks and basic equipment for pupils at Fortrose Academy last year.
Accounts showed that essentials such as safety goggles, power cables, drug awareness kits and art easels were among the items paid for.
Yesterday professor Baikie said that Wick High School parent council spent “several thousand pounds worth” on the new canteen furniture at the school, adding: “When we bought the seating the number of school meals went up by more than a third. I remember visiting the school before that and children were sitting on the floor eating their lunch.”
Mr Whitfield, who represents schools in the far north on Highland Council’s parent council partnership, said: “We have a very good tech department and a good teacher which is why we were keen to support them, and we know that things are getting harder for music in schools.
“We have always had to do fundraising for extras but now it’s funding for the basics. It’s not the flesh you’re cutting but the bone.”
Highland Council education committee chairman, Drew Millar, said the problem has stemmed from a cumulative 7% cut to the local authority’s devolved school management budget in as many years.
Elsewhere in the Highlands, Tain Royal Academy chairman David Borland said their parent council only paid out for one-off extra items – not basic essentials.
And former Plockton High School parent council chairman, George Hendry, said parents would tend to spend a certain amount on basic equipment if they felt it contributed more to their child’s education.