'Humiliating' tactic to get parents to pay voluntary school fees early

A Sydney primary school has been labelled “disgraceful” for “humiliating” students by handing out popcorn only to the children whose parents have paid the school fees early.

When invoices for fees at Bondi Public School were sent out, parents were encouraged to pay up early with a bag of lunchtime popcorn for their child as a reward.

One mother told 7 News her son was upset he missed out on the treat.

Bondi Public School has been called ‘disgraceful and humiliating’ for handing out popcorn to students as a reward for parents paying school fees early. Source: 7 News

“He said, ‘I didn’t get popcorn’, and then he said, ‘Did you pay the school fees?’, and I said, ‘Yes’. But I might have missed the date,” the woman said.

Public school fees are meant to be voluntary, so the reward system came under swift condemnation from Education Minister Ron Stokes who wanted to ensure “those who might be vulnerable in some way are certainly not targeted”.

“I think it’s disgraceful that kids have been humiliated in this way. There’s nothing fun about being humiliated in front of your classmates,” he told 7 News.

Bondi Public School principal Michael Jones is now under investigation by the Education Department over the stunt. Source: 7 News

The P&C Federation also weighed in on the issue.

“Giving prizes like popcorn is utterly inappropriate and humiliating to the students and families who may not be able to afford fees,” the federation said in a statement.

Some parents though had no issue, with one dad saying: “Missing out on the popcorn is not going to be damaging to anybody.”

Bondi Public School Principal Michael Jones previously courted controversy when he banned the word, ‘Easter’, from the school’s Easter Hat Parade without consultation.

Education Minister Rob Stokes said the incentive ‘humiliated’ students from families who may not be in a position to pay the school fees. Source: 7 News

Mr Jones was not talking on Thursday but the school instead referred 7News to the Education Department.

“Principals must ensure no students or family suffer discrimination or embarrassment if a voluntary payment isn’t made,” the department said.

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