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Taking money for trips - what happens when money goes missing?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Orkrider2, Sep 15, 2015.

  1. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I'm asking on behalf of a friend who as asked me for advice and I just wanted to make sure that I've given her the correct info.

    Basically, my friend has a regular supply gig in a school, covering for a class teacher 1 day a week, and took some money for a school trip. She followed the school system for handing in money to the office, but now some has gone missing, which may or may not be the money my friend took - they're not sure - but the office staff are pointing the blame in my friend's direction. So far she hasn't been approached by SLT, only by the office staff, who keep telling her it's her responsibility to find the missing money.

    I've advised her to go to SLT herself and explain the situation, emphasising that she did follow the correct procedure for handing in money and she's not sure what happened to it after it was collected from the classroom in the register, and that she's only flagging it up because the office staff has implied that the trip can't go ahead if the money isn't found, which will cause uproar among the parents. I've told her to say nothing more than that she followed the procedure and she doesn't know what happened, but that if there is any implication that she has done something wrong, ask that the conversation be terminated and continued when a union rep is present.

    Is that fair? She's worried it'll come across as defensive or confrontational, but I personally don't ever trust anyone at schools anymore, and I'm aware that I'm an old cynical cow who is jaded from my own bad experiences. Is there anything else I could advise her to say/do? It's quite a large sum of money and she's worried that she'll either be asked to put in the missing money herself, or they'll go down a disciplinary route. I said both were unlikely, but I don't really know to be honest. Oh, and I told her not to handle any money from this point onwards, but have a TA or the other year group teacher take charge of the trip money for that class. Any advice appreciated, thanks.
  2. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    This is why, as a supply teacher, I never touch money. If someone comes in with trip money then they are sent to the student reception or equivalent. In fact, even when I worked permanently 15 years ago the schools I worked in had already adopted this system.

    Unless your friend actually witnessed the office staff tick off the money on a list or was issued with a receipt, it becomes her word against the office staff.

    She needs to write down and remember as much detail as possible about when the money was handed in. Any witnesses, what were the staff doing, was it in an envelope etc. It may be a case of getting advice from the union.

    It certainly is not the case that it is your friend's responsibility to find the money since the office staff are not even certain your friend handled the money. However, it would be prudent of your friend to backtrack and try to remember all the places she was when the money was in her possession and retrace her steps (informally of course). It's amazing what sometimes can turn up.

    Whether the trip goes ahead or not is simply not normally a matter for office staff. I think they are panicking and trying to pass the buck.
  3. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    0. This is one of the 22 tasks teachers should not do! Advise your friend NEVER to collect money again!

    1. I would also say go to SLT and explain the situation.

    2. These are the possibilities. Be warned, some are unpalatable.

    a) Your friend is a thief and took the money.

    b) A member of office staff is a thief and took the money.

    c) The school was 'busy,' your friend (say) handed it in at reception and (say) a dishonest parent collecting their child took it.

    d) The money is there but the books have been filled in wrong by the office staff.

    As tempting as it would be for your friend to just give the money to close the situation (unless she IS the thief in which case honesty would probably come with the P45 for this supply stint and possibly others) I would advise against that as it implies guilt.

    Ultimately if its say £8 for a trip to Dismaland to review Banksy as part of a Y8 Art project if it comes to it the school could sort it. If its £2800 for the Year 11 trip to Outer Patagonia, maybe not (Although whoever gives in that sum in notes needs shooting.....................)
  4. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Personally, I suspect that the money has simply been misplaced by the office staff, probably being put in a different classes folder by mistake, or simply sitting underneath something else somewhere in the office. It's the beginning of term and most classes are apparently sorting out trips for the coming weeks, so there's a lot of slips and envelopes coming in all over the place so I can imagine it's not hard to get things muddled up and lost in the reams of paperwork. It sounds to me like the office staff are engaging in a bit of backside covering and my friend, as a supply teacher, is probably a soft target.

    The system seems rather stupid to be honest - kids bring in the money and slip in an envelope and it's put in a ziplock bag that's attached to the register and taken to the office via a register monitor (year 6 child). Theoretically, it's then down to the office staff to sort out and tick off the money but it leaves a lot of holes for abuse of the system in my mind, but that's by the by as it's not my school and not my system! My son's school has a letterbox outside the office in which you have to post your envelope with the slip and the correct money clearly labelled with the child's name and class, and then it's dealt with solely by the office and teachers never have to go near any of it. That seems much more sensible.

    The only good news is that the TA distinctly remembers my friend following the correct procedure because she had to ask the TA what to do with it. She also remembers which monitor collected the register that day, so there's that too.

    Will pass on the advice about not offering to make up the money under any circumstances (I would say with 99.9% certainty that she hasn't stolen it - and that 0.1% is only because I'm horribly cynical!). It's not £8, but it's not £2800 either. It's enough to be a worry but not so much the school shouldn't be able to find the money to cover it if needs be.

    This school has been nothing but trouble for her from day 1, so maybe it's the kick up the bum she needs to ask her agency for something better!
  5. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    And the moral of the story is: do not collect in money.
  6. DYNAMO67

    DYNAMO67 Lead commenter

    It is a stupid, antiquated system, particularly in a primary school. In our school everything is done via a parentpay account. Trips, dinners etc. Everything is cashless. With this system I don't think that there is an option to say that 'i won't take trip money'. If a child brought in money, you refused to take it and it subsequently got lost (more likely than the issue above) it would lead to more issues.

    It is obvious to me that the office staff have misplaced this. Does the office have CCTV to prove she went there? Most do...... The office staff ought to have a stern talking to for implying directly that she is at fault. Buck passing at its most unpleasant.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    So a Y6 child took the money to the office unsupervised?

    So that's another possibility to add to scienceteacha's list

    e) The register monitor took it out on the way to the office.
  8. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter


    And if school policy is that teachers (supply or otherwise) collect money in, then it is not a policy fit for purpose and the school is liable (in my opinion) for any losses.

    OP - tell your friend to contact his/her Union.

    PS I agree - your friend should not UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES offer to pay it back/allow themselves to be coerced to do so: it WILL be seen as guilt.

    TBH in their position I would express outrage at office staff and turn any claims that I've lost it back on them.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    FF is absolutely right, your friend mustn't even think about doing such a thing. It wouldn't matter how often your friend said they hadn't taken it, the moment they paid the money themselves the office staff would gossip about it that 'she wouldn't have paid it back unless she was guilty would she?'. Mud sticks. Most people would assume she had stolen it in the first place.
  10. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    The money has probably been misplaced.

    If your hand followed the school's system and turned it into the office then she isn't to blame and should not worry. Let us trust the truth of the matter will come out, but the money probably has been misplaced.
  11. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Thank you all, she's going to the DH today about it all and I've passed on all the advice you've given. I agree money should not be handed over to teachers, particularly not supply teachers, but it's a tricky one when you're standing in front of a new class and there are 10 kids thrusting envelopes at you and everyone around you is telling you you have to take the money because that's just the way its done at this school.
  12. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    She needs to speak to SLT ASAP.

    Regardless of conspiracy theories, as an ex-Union Rep I would advise anyone - permanent or supply - to never handle money. If the school is so antiquated it still does the "money in envelopes" trick, then it has to accept it could be misplaced.
  13. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    She went to DH and lo and behold, the money was found within 20 minutes. Hmmmmm..... All sounds a bit suspect to me, but at least my friend is happy that she's off the hook.

    I'm still going to tell her to get out of there asap though, because it seems like either the school is incompetent or someone's drawn a target on her back. Either way, it's best she's out of there sooner rather than later.
  14. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Good news that the money has reappeared. Your friend now knows that some of the office staff are not to be trusted.

    Time to move on.

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