School grants and funding: worth the time and the money.
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
It’s no secret that schools and educational establishments across England are suffering in the wake of austerity. Prolonged cuts to funding at government level have had a dire impact on schools, resulting in buildings in need of repair, significantly reduced resources and a lasting impact on the achievement of children and young people.
Despite the recent election promises, it doesn’t look like it will get better any time soon. More than 80% of UK Primary and Secondary schools will have less funding per pupil in 2020 than they did in 2015 due to a £2.5 billion shortfall*.
If you work in a school, finding sources of additional money to supplement your rapidly dwindling budget can seem like a mammoth task. However this doesn’t have to be an impossible task – thousands of grants and sources of funds are available for schools across the UK and it may be time that your school threw their hat in the ring.
One workload task too many?
From my experience working and writing fundraising campaigns for the education sector, I understand the pressures facing teachers and schools. All too often we hear of staff who are made redundant or who are swamped with an increasing workload, bulging class sizes and limited resources or support. Children with SEN have often been the first to feel the effects of austerity with schools struggling to pay for essential specialist support amid huge budget deficits.
Many times the job of applying for grants or organising fundraising falls to the School Business Manager, Deputy or Headteacher – all of whom have plenty of other pressing tasks to be getting on with. Often the task is on the list of “things I must be getting on with” but never actually gets done as the pressures of daily school life fire-fighting leave no time or energy.
Making time for funding applications can be difficult and the prospect of where to begin, daunting. Many schools still remain completely unaware of the potential funding streams available to them. With £2 billion funds available each year from over 10,000 grant trusts and charities, struggling schools could really grab a lifeline with the right funding application.
Where to find grants:
If you do have the time, you can begin some of the process of searching for available funding streams by looking online. However I would recommend that employing a freelance or outside professional to do this for you will save a whole heap of time and stress. Of course the concept of outlying budget to pay for someone to do this may seem laughable when your school is veering rapidly into the red. It’s worth considering though that the cost of a paying someone (like me!) to search, write your application and win funding is absolute tiny in the scheme of potential funds available to your school. In short, you will more than double your spend.
To give you an idea of the funds that could be accessible for your school, have a look at the following providers:
The Social Switch Project (London): https://www.thesocialswitchproject.org.uk/get-involved/apply-for-a-grant?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhoGT-sXB5gIVGLLtCh1uVAo3EAAYAiAAEgJcHPD_BwE
Education Endowment Foundation: https://educationendowmentfoundation.org.uk/projects-and-evaluation/how-to-apply/
The National Lottery Fund: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/the-national-lottery-community-fund
What could you do with this money?
Checking the conditions of grants is important – not all will let you spend the money on whatever you want. So before you get ££ in your eyes, make sure you are applying for a grant or funds that you can actually use. Here’s some ideas of just where your money could go:
With one in six schools in the UK in need of urgent building repair* fixing that hole in the school hall roof could be possible.
Learning resources, school furniture and specialist equipment are always needed and can put an end to teachers paying out of their own pockets.
Improving your playground and outside areas - may be incorporating a new sports focus or sensory areas.
If you win big, building extra classrooms or extending your existing school building can be possible. With class sizes rising and more schools increasing form-entry, this could be just what you need.
Struggling to attract staff? With some funding streams it may even be possible to pay recruitment and retention allowances or employ additional teaching support staff.
With all grant applications and no matter how you choose to spend the money, one thing is essential: make clear the benefits to your school and ultimately, to children’s achievement.
Your funding application needs to be detailed but concise and include key information that will make it stand out from all others. You usually only have one shot at a grant application – so make it count.
If all of this has got you thinking and you would like to explore funding applications for your school, just drop me a line. I’m more than happy to speak to your SLT about funding options, research your options and write your applications. Together, we could win big!
*The Guardian, October – December 2019.