To bridge the gap? Voluntary action in primary schools

Journal article

Body, A., Hogg, E. and Holman, K. 2017. To bridge the gap? Voluntary action in primary schools. Voluntary Sector Review. 8 (3), pp. 251-271.
AuthorsBody, A., Hogg, E. and Holman, K.

Voluntary action has long played a role in state education, with Parent Teacher Associations being one of the most common forms of charitable organisation in England. However, education policy, driven by a growing free-market discourse and policy initiatives such as localism, is increasingly pushing for greater voluntary action.

This article explores the distribution of voluntary action for primary schools in one local authority area in England. Drawing upon primary data from 114 questionnaires completed by head teachers and secondary data from the financial records (2013/14) of 380 primary schools, we find evidence of considerable uneven dispersal of voluntary action between schools. These disparities are related to factors including school size, location, leadership ideology and the socio-economic profile of the school. The consequence of this uneven distribution is that schools catering for more affluent communities are more likely to have additional resources than those with poorer profiles.

JournalVoluntary Sector Review
Journal citation8 (3), pp. 251-271
PublisherPolicy Press
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Publication dates
Online01 Nov 2017
Publication process dates
Deposited24 Oct 2017
Accepted19 Oct 2017
Accepted author manuscript
Output statusPublished

Adonis, A., 2012, Education, education, education: Reforming England’s schools. London: Biteback

Alcock, P., 2010, Building the Big Society: a new policy environment for the third sector in England, Voluntary Sector Review, 1(3): 379–389.

Alcock, P., Kendall, J., and Parry, J., 2012, From the third sector to the Big Society: consensus or contention in the 2010 UK General Election?, Voluntary Sector Review, 3(3): 347–363.

Andreoni, J. and Payne, A., 2011, Is crowding out due entirely to fundraising? Evidence from a panel of charities. Journal of Public Economics, 95: 334–343.

Bagley, C. and Hillyard, S., 2014, Rural schools, social capital and the Big Society: a theoretical and empirical exposition. British Educational Research Journal, 40(1): 63-78.

Ball, S., 2003, The teacher’s soul and the terrors of performativity, Journal of Education Policy, 18(2): 215–228.

Ball, S., Maguire, M., and Braun, A.., 2012, How schools do policy: Policy enactments in secondary schools, London: Routledge.

Ball, S. and Youdell, D., 2008, Hidden privatisation in public education. Brussels: Education International.

Bates, A., 2013, Transcending systems thinking in education reform: implications for policy-makers and school leaders, Journal of Education Policy, 28(1): 38-54.

BBC News, 2017, School funding: Fundraising to keep schools running, published 22/03/2017 accessed 20/06/2017

Body, A., 2017, Fundraising for primary schools in England—Moving beyond the school gates, International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 10.1002/nvsm.1582

Body, A. and Breeze, B., 2016, What are ‘unpopular causes’ and how can they achieve fundraising success?, International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, 21(1): 57-70.

Boraas, S., 2003, Volunteerism in the United States. Monthly Labor Review, 126(8): 3-11.

Breeze, B., 2012, Donor and Governmental Perceptions of Charity. In Philanthropy and a Better Society, London: CGAP.

Brooks, G., Cato, V., Fernendes, C. and Treganza, A., 1996, The Knowsley Reading Project: Using trained reading helpers effectively, Slough, National Foundation for Educational Research.

Cabinet Office, 2013, Community Life Survey, 2012-13. London: Cabinet Office.

Cabinet Office, 2016, Community Life Survey, 2015-16. London: Cabinet Office.

CAF, 2015, UK Giving 2014: An overview of charitable giving in the UK during 2014, Charities Aid Foundation

Cameron, D., 2010, Our Big Society agenda,, accessed on 5/7/2017.

Carpenter, J., Connolly, C., and Myers, C., 2008, Altruistic behavior in a representative dictator experiment, Experimental Economics, 1(3): 282-298.

Department for Education, 2010, The importance of teaching: the schools white paper 2010, London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Department for Education, 2012, Action research into the evolving role of the local authority in education, Department for Education

Dominia , T., 2005, Levelling the Home Advantage: Assessing the Effectiveness of Parental Involvement in Elementary School, Sociology of Education 78(3): 233-249

Elliott, J., Arthurs, J. and Williams, R., 2000, Volunteer Support in the Primary Classroom: the long-term impact of one initiative upon children’s reading performance, British Educational Research Journal, 26(2): 227-244.

Green, A., Johns, N. and Rix, M., 2011, Liberty, national security and the Big Society, Sociological Research Online, 16(2).

Greene, F., 2009. Assessing the Impact of Policy Interventions: The Influence of Evaluation Methodology, Environment and Planning. Government and Policy, 27: 216-229.

Hatcher, R., 2006, Privatization and sponsorship: the re‐agenting of the school system in England, Journal of Education Policy, 21(5): 599-619.

Hesse-Biber, S., 2010, Qualitative Approaches to Mixed Methods Practice. Qualitative Inquiry, 16(6),: 455–468

Hogg, E., 2016, Constant, serial and trigger volunteers: volunteering across the lifecourse and into older age, Voluntary Sector Review, 7(2): 169-190.

Houtenville, A., and Conway, K., 2008, Parental effort, school resources, and student achievement. Journal of Human resources, 43(2): 437-453.

Ingram, M., Wolfe, R. and Lieberman, J., 2007, The role of parents in high-achieving schools serving low-income, at-risk populations, Education and Urban Society, 39(4): 479-497.

Ingram, N, 2016., Forced academisation by proxy: when schools have little choice but to convert. , accessed on 5/7/17.

Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2015, School spending - IFS Briefing Note BN168, Nuffield Foundation

Kounali, D., Robinson, T., Goldstein, H. and Lauder, H., 2008, The probity of free school meals as a proxy measure for disadvantage, University of Bath, Maths/Education.

Low, N., Butt, S., Ellis Paine, A. and Davis Smith, J., 2007, Helping Out: A National Survey of Volunteering and Charitable Giving, London: Cabinet Office.

Lupton, R. and Thrupp, M., 2013, Headteachers' readings of and responses to disadvantaged contexts: evidence from English primary schools, British Educational Research Journal, 39(4): 769-788.

McGill, R., 2011, Voluntary action under threat, NCIA, accessed on 5/7/17.

McGinn, K. C., and Ben-Porath, S., 2014, Parental engagement through school choice: Some reasons for caution. Theory and Research in Education, 12(2), 172-192.

Miller, S., Connolly, P., Odena, O. and Styles, B, 2009, A Randomised Controlled Trial Evaluation of Business in the Community’s Time to Read Pupil Mentoring Programme, Centre for Effective Education, School of Education, Queen’s University Belfast.

Mohan, J. and Bulloch, S., 2012, The idea of a ‘civic core’: what are the overlaps between charitable giving, volunteering, and civic participation in England and Wales? Working Paper 73, Third Sector Research Centre, University of Birmingham.

Montemaggi, F.E., Bullivant, S. and Glackin, M., 2016, The take-up of free school meals in Catholic schools in England and Wales, St Mary’s University Twickenham, London, at accessed on 20/06/2017.

Morris, D., 2011, Building a big society: will charity's creeping reach generate a new paradigm for state schools? Journal of Social Welfare and Family Law, 33 (3): 209-226.

Musick, M. and Wilson, J., 2008, Volunteers: A Social Profile. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

NCVO, 2016, UK Civil Society Almanac,, accessed on 5/7/17.

NCVO and CAF, 2012, UK Giving: 2012, An Overview of Charitable Giving in the UK 2011/12. London: CAF and NCVO.

Newby, P., 2010, Research Methods for Education. London: Pearson’s Education Limited.

Payne, A., 1998, Does the government crowd out private donations? New evidence from a sample of non-profit firms, Journal of Public Economics, 69:323-45.

Payton, R., and Moody, M., 2008, Understanding philanthropy: Its meaning and mission, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Plowden., B, 1967, Children and their Primary Schools: A Report of the Central Advisory Council for Education (England), London: HMSO.

Poesen-Vandeputte, M. and Nicaise, I., 2015, Rich schools, poor schools. Hidden resource inequalities between primary schools, Educational Research 57(1): 91-109.

PricewaterhouseCoopers, L.L.P., 2007, Independent study into school leadership. Department for Education and Skills, Nottingham.

Ranson, S., Arnott, M., McKeownc, P., Martin, J., and Smith, P., 2005, The participation of volunteer citizens in school governance, Educational Review, 57(3):.357-371.

Rebok, G., 2004, Short-Term Impact of Experience Corps® Participation on Children and Schools: Results from a Pilot Randomized Trial, Journal of Urban Health, 81(1): 79-93.

Reich, R., 2007, Philanthropy and its Uneasy Relation to Equality, in W. Damon and S. Verducci (Eds.) Taking Philanthropy Seriously: Beyond Noble Intentions to Responsible Giving, Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ritter, W., Barnett, J., Denny, G., and Albin, G., 2009, The effectiveness of volunteer tutoring programs for elementary and middle school students: a meta‐analysis, Review of Educational Research, 79(1): 3‐38.

Rochester, C., 2013, Rediscovering Voluntary Action: The Beat of a Different Drum. Palgrave Macmillan.

Rowson, J., Broome, S. and Jones A., 2010, Connected Communities: How social networks power and sustain the Big Society, RSA Report.

Sanders, M., 2001, The Role of "Community" in Comprehensive School, Family, and Community Partnership Programs, The Elementary School Journal, 102(1): 19-34.

Sheldon, S. and Epstien, J., (2002) Improving Student Behavior and School Discipline with Family and Community Involvement, Education and Urban Society 35(1): 4-26

Smith, S., 2012, Mind the Gap: the growing generational divide in charitable giving, London: Charities Aid Foundation.

Stronach, I., 2010, Globalizing education, educating the local: How method made us mad, London: Routledge.

Tracey, D., Hornery, S., Seaton, M., Craven., R and Seeshing., A, 2014, Volunteers Supporting Children with Reading Difficulties in Schools: Motives and Rewards. School Community Journal, 2014, 24(1): 49-68.

West, A., 2014, Academies in England and independent schools (fristående skolor) in Sweden: policy, privatisation, access and segregation, Research Papers in Education, 29(3): 330–350.

Wiepking, P. and Maas, I., 2009, Resources that make you generous: effects of social and human resources on charitable giving, Social Forces 87(4): 1973-1995.

Yörük, B., 2012, Charitable solicitations matter: A comparative analysis of fundraising methods. The Journal of Applied Public Economics, 33(4): 467–487.

Permalink -

Download files

Accepted author manuscript
  • 13
    total views
  • 3
    total downloads
  • 0
    views this month
  • 0
    downloads this month

Export as

Related outputs

Perceptions of placement experiences of Early Childhood Studies students: the fluency of knowledge and skills
Holman, K. and Richardson, T. 2020. Perceptions of placement experiences of Early Childhood Studies students: the fluency of knowledge and skills. Journal of Further and Higher Education.
What mattered ten years on? young people’s reflections on their involvement with a charitable youth participation project
Body, A. and Hogg, E. 2018. What mattered ten years on? young people’s reflections on their involvement with a charitable youth participation project. Journal of Youth Studies.
Fundraising for primary schools in England – “Moving beyond the school gates”
Body, A. 2017. Fundraising for primary schools in England – “Moving beyond the school gates”. International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing.
To bridge the gap: voluntary action in primary education
Body, A., Hogg, E. and Holman, K. 2016. To bridge the gap: voluntary action in primary education. Canterbury
Rising to the challenge: a study of philanthropic support for unpopular causes
Body, A. and Breeze, B. 2015. Rising to the challenge: a study of philanthropic support for unpopular causes.
What are ‘unpopular causes’ and how can they achieve fundraising success?
Body, A. and Breeze, B. 2016. What are ‘unpopular causes’ and how can they achieve fundraising success? International Journal for Non-profit and Voluntary Sector Marketing. 21 (1), pp. 57-70.
To bridge the gap: voluntary action in primary education
Holman, K., Body, A. and Hogg, E. 2016. To bridge the gap: voluntary action in primary education. Canterbury