17/06/2018 06:01 BST

Hundreds Of Schools Are Using Amazon Wish Lists To Fund Basic Supplies

Safety signage and toothbrushes among items on virtual 'wish lists'.

Getty Stock/Amazon UK
Hundreds of 'wish lists' are attributed to schools on Amazon's website. Many ask for people to buy basic supplies.

Schools are pleading for donations from parents in desperate bids to fund essentials like pens, pencils and glue sticks.

Hundreds of “wish lists” on Amazon’s website carry the names of schools, with many including appeals for people to buy basic supplies ordinarily purchased through everyday budgets.

As union leaders highlight a growing crisis in school funding, HuffPost UK has found:

  • A wish list under the name of a primary school near Reading which included items such as safety signs and wall clocks;

  • Resources for helping children cope with anxiety among those listed by schools;

  • And special needs schools have appealed to parents for sensory equipment.

A review of 650 wish lists which appeared to carry the names of UK schools and academies showed that their use has extended beyond appeals for library books.

The Gibside special needs school in Gateshead used a wish list to ask for toothbrushes for its dental hygiene classes.

It wrote on Amazon: “We are always looking for additional resources which will help our children achieve their full potential.”

Amazon UK
Gibside School includes toothbrushes on its wish list to help children practice cleaning their teeth.

One school appealed for help in purchasing a classroom whiteboard. Another said it needed supplies of footballs and coloured bibs.

St Mary’s C of E Primary School in East Grinstead, West Sussex, used an Amazon wish list to plea for basics like rubbers, rulers, pencils, pens and dictionaries.

It also asked for expensive technology including iPads and GoPro cameras.

The school’s Jules Sadler-Lambert said the Amazon wish list system allowed it to choose exactly what teachers needed.

“At the beginning the response was really very good from parents, and the way it works is we can choose what is needed and the parents pop on and buy it,” she told HuffPost. 

Amazon UK
St Mary's Primary School lists pencils, rubbers and glue sticks in its Amazon wish list.

A wish list attributed to Woolhampton C of E Primary School in Berkshire included safety signs which read “Please close this door” and “Keep off”, alongside easy-read wall clocks.

The wish list also included two books, including one named The Panicosaurus, dedicated to helping children with anxiety.

A wish list carrying the name of Westbury Park School in Bristol included a note which said: “We have set up a wish list of things the teachers and children would like. Next time you’re shopping, why not pop a little extra something in your trolley to be delivered to the school?” The school’s list included hockey sticks and felt-tip pens.

And there were many examples of schools which used wish lists to appeal for essential text books. The James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh listed Secondary Mathematics guides on its wish list, while many others attributed to schools included GCSE English Literature texts.

There were also wish lists dedicated to helping pupils whose reading skills were excelling beyond schools’ current range of books.

Other than St Mary’s, it was unclear who at each school set up the wish lists or whether they were part of an official fundraising effort. None of the other schools responded to requests for comment.

A search for “school” on the Amazon UK wish list system returned 2527 results.

Google Street View
St Mary's C of E Primary School in East Grinstead has appealed to parents to help fund classroom basics.

It was revealed on Friday that a school in Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency used an Amazon wish list to appeal for essentials like toilet rolls.

And recent research by the Association of School and College Leaders found 24% of school bosses said they expect the need for voluntary contributions from parents in order to keep funding mainstream activities.

Schools Week revealed last month how schools in one of the UK’s leading academy chains were among those using Amazon wish lists to ask for donations.

Geoff Barton, the Association’s general secretary, said: “It’s another sign of the severe funding pressures facing schools that so many are using Amazon wish lists. Schools have always asked for voluntary contributions and donations from parents to help fund some activities and resources.

“But the fact that school budgets have been cut by £2.8bn since 2015 means many increasingly have to turn to parents for help with a range of resources, including text books, art and design materials, library books, IT materials and sports equipment.

“The government must stop short-changing schools, and pupils, and improve education funding urgently.”

Mary Bousted, Joint General Secretary of the National Education Union, said: “Schools should not have to scrabble around for resources and equipment or ask for donations for essential items or repairs.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “Core school funding will rise to a record £43.5bn by 2020 – the highest ever - and 50% more per pupil in real terms than in 2000. We are giving every local authority more money for every school in 2018-19 and 2019-20. In fact, this year a typical primary class will get £130,000.

“We are absolutely clear that no parent can be required to make financial contributions to a school and all schools must make clear that any requests for donations are voluntary.”