Points help parents pay
Back-to-school costs can easily cripple some families' finances, but one Hamilton school has figured out a way to help parents without any cash changing hands.
Nawton School principal Rubina Wheeler started a points system in which parents volunteer their time to earn points which can then pay for uniforms, books and school trips.
One hour of volunteered time gains one school point equivalent of a dollar. Each volunteer is limited to 250 points per year to help the scheme stay within its $4000 budget.
"It started two years ago, when the Government was talking about getting everyone off benefits. So we started looking at what we could do.
"It's all about empowering people to come up with solutions for themselves. If money is tight, you can still come up and help out and figure it out that way," Mrs Wheeler said.
University of Waikato economist Dr Michael Cameron said while the scheme would not work as smoothly in higher decile schools, it could easily benefit a lower socio-economic one.
"This may be a good way for the school to ensure the students have adequate resources for their learning," he said.
"I'd be concerned that the parents are giving up too much - effectively they would be working for $1 an hour, but really that's up to them to decide - and they will benefit from the system."
Volunteer Ronda Roberts still volunteers two years on, despite having secured a paid job with the school.
"I feel empowered because I worked and by the end of the year I was able to pay for everything and I didn't have to spend a dollar," she said.
"I had earned it so I didn't feel like I had been given a handout, I got a hand up.
"Now it's more about how much I can give back, and it just shows no matter who you are, what you look like or walk of life you're from, you can do this."