Schools test parents’ patience with new year demands
Back to school shopping lists are becoming increasingly elaborate with some schools now asking for a computer mouse and making requests for specific brands of pricey stationery.
Newport Public School on the northern beaches this year is asking parents to buy 10 graphite HB pencils and two packets of 12 coloured pencils in the "preferred brands" Staedtler or Faber- Castell.
Parents are also requested to supply an A3 art portfolio made by either J.Burrows or Itoya, which currently retails at Officeworks for $29.
At Murwillumbah Public School on the north coast students must bring whiteboard markers and pens and pencils in addition to a computer mouse and mousepad.
"The following items are ESSENTIAL for students to supply," the 2021 stationery notice to parents in Year 5 and 6 said.
P and C Central Coast president Sharryn Brownlee said schoolteachers should not be making requests for specific brands and technology equipment.
"To put that pressure on individual families, especially during COVID when people are losing their jobs, is very disappointing," she said.
"It is incredibly divisive because some families are easily able to afford it and do it, other families can't and won't and it becomes a problem at home."
Former schoolteacher and Shooters and Fishers MP Mark Banasiak said most parents have no problem with supplying some stationery but said parents should be able to get it from their local supermarket fairly cheaply.
"To go down a path of saying 'we want this specific brand of stationery' is bordering on pedantic and ridiculous," he said.
"For schools to get really specific about brand names, I think it potentially might create some equity issues."
Nowra Hill Public School on the south coast has gone in the opposite direction this year and specifically directed parents not to purchase fancy textas and erasers so students can focus in the classroom.
"NO NEED for textas, white-out, gel pens, erasers or connector textas. We are aiming to minimise distractions in the classroom so please ensure all stationery will help this to happen, ie nothing hanging off the end of pencils or pens," it said.
A Department of Education spokeswoman said principals' requests for stationery were intended to enhance students' learning experiences and were not necessary to meet the demands of the curriculum.
"The nature and extent of such requests is a matter for individual schools," she said.
Mum Moreen Dean was asked to take some hygiene products with her son Hamza Khan, 4, on the first day of Minchinbury Public School this year but the stationery will be provided by the school.
"I personally felt communal stationery was a great idea for the younger aged children to avoid sharing and entitlement issues that can arise at this age," she said.
"And as another matter it's great for reducing environmental impacts that back-to- school shopping has in today's climate. Children seem to have become accustomed to having new and better items provided each year."
Originally published as Schools test parents' patience with new year demands