A SALISBURY school has come under fire for asking parents for money towards their sons' exam costs.

One Bishop Wordsworth’s School parent said the school was not private and should not be "money grabbing".

But headmaster Stuart Smallwood said BWS had faced harsher budget cuts than other local schools.

Bishop's spends more than £50,000 entering pupils for nine or more GCSEs each, putting “extreme demands” on its budget.

A letter to parents asks: "Could you cover the costs of one or two entries at approx £47 each or the average cost of your son’s entries?"

It comes just weeks after the school asked parents for £30 to £50 a month towards their sons’ educations.

One parent, who did not wish to be named, said: “Over the last year the school has asked for 'voluntary contributions' for a number of things, ranging from drugs awareness talks, sports, school plays and are now asking for contributions towards GCSEs. This is ridiculous.

"When will this money-grabbing stop? They are not a private school.”

No other state-funded secondary schools in south Wiltshire ask for help with exam fees or monthly payments.

Dr Smallwood said his school, like many others, was "finding funding settlements difficult to manage", and there were several reasons why it had suffered more than most schools.

It has a large sixth form, and funding for post-16 students has been cut by a fifth in four years, meaning it has faced disproportionate cuts compared to other Wiltshire schools, he said.

The "stable and highly qualified" teaching staff is expensive, he said, adding that BWS gets virtually no pupil premium funding or other funding to support learning, which makes a "significant difference".

BWS was incredibly lucky to have overwhelmingly supportive parents and there was absolutely no pressure to contribute, he added.

"They recognise that the all-round education provided by Bishop’s is unique and without sufficient resources it simply cannot happen."