Charities Play a Growing Role in Our Schools - but Is That a Good Thing? Is the Role of Charities in Fundraising through the Activities of School Pupils as Benign as It First Appears and Does It Distract from Solutions to Social Problems Which Should Be Government-Led? Education Expert Sally Power Examines the Issue

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), April 13, 2018 | Go to article overview

Charities Play a Growing Role in Our Schools - but Is That a Good Thing? Is the Role of Charities in Fundraising through the Activities of School Pupils as Benign as It First Appears and Does It Distract from Solutions to Social Problems Which Should Be Government-Led? Education Expert Sally Power Examines the Issue


WHILE there have been growing concerns about the permeation of business in education, relatively little attention has been paid to how schools are increasingly engaged in the "business" of fundraising for charities.

At the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research Data and Method (Wiserd), we have been examining the increasingly close relationship between young people, their schools and charities.

Our research, based on surveys of over 1,000 school students in Wales, shows that young people have a high degree of engagement with charities, and that schools play a significant part in this.

We found that the overwhelming majority of the students - age 14 to 18 - had been actively involved in not only donating money and goods, but also fundraising for charities.

In 2016, nearly 95% were involved in fundraising in the preceding 12 months.

In addition, nearly one quarter (24%) had fundraised in the month before the survey was taken.

We also asked the students to name the last charity their secondary school had supported. They identified 37 different charities, the top 10 of which were Children in Need, Cancer Research UK, Sport Relief, Wales Air Ambulance, Catholic Agency For Overseas Development (CAFOD), British Heart Foundation, Text Santa, PATCH (a local foodbank and clothing charity), Macmillan Cancer Support, and Ty Hafan (paediatric palliative care).

Research shows that it is almost certainly the case that the pupils' schools play a big role in fostering these activities.

A 2013 Charities Aid Foundation survey reported that, after television, young people were most likely to find out about charities through school.

Another study, by education marketing company JEM, showed that the average secondary school donated nearly PS7,000 to charity in 2012-13. Indeed, just over half of the secondary schools in that study had a designated school-wide charity coordinator.

There are likely many positive aspects to the promotion of charities in schools.

It can be argued that charitable activities are important to develop a sense of citizenship - in terms of individual engagement, participation in collective school activities, and engendering a broader sense of social responsibility.

Nearly all the charities listed above have dedicated resources for teachers, to help them organise communal fundraising events within their schools.

Children in Need, the most frequently mentioned school-supported charity, provides a range of materials for school activities such as cake stalls, art projects and discos. It might be argued that the educational benefits of these kinds of activities are not self-evident. But it can also be said that they bring a sense of common purpose, and help build a strong school ethos. …

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Charities Play a Growing Role in Our Schools - but Is That a Good Thing? Is the Role of Charities in Fundraising through the Activities of School Pupils as Benign as It First Appears and Does It Distract from Solutions to Social Problems Which Should Be Government-Led? Education Expert Sally Power Examines the Issue
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