Funding extended services beyond March 2011
With the Comprehensive Spending Review published on 20th October, it will possibly be months before the implications for public services are fully understood. The principles for all government departments to review their spending is outlined in their structural reform plans (SRP) and the Department for Education's SRP identifies the role of the pupil premium to fund ‘help to the poorest' pupils and which will provide for smaller classes, as well as ‘more extra-curricular activities and longer school days'. Where schools do not have high numbers of pupils on free school meals, it is even more important to be proactive in pursuing funding opportunities to maintain after-school clubs and other activities that pupils and their families value and on which they have come to rely.
Reinvesting savings in school services
Schools which are members of hard or soft federations or consortia can benefit from economies of scale in their purchasing of services and utilities. The E13 Learning Community is one of the first extended schools clusters to set up a charitable body on behalf of its eight member schools in Plaistow, East London. Working with the Barclays procurement service, the cluster has identified the collective cost of its supply cover as a potential area for savings. By putting out the supply contract to tender, E13 will annually save thousands of pounds to reinvest in its community services.
Even without broader savings opportunities, individual schools can still benefit from working with an external procurement service. Specialist consultants will review a school's service contracts, comparing their value for money against other similar schools or other service sectors. Schools are no different from other organisations in that they have to spend money on communications, energy, water, waste management, catering, cleaning and other business consumables.
In the first part of the process, a consultant will identify the essential business costs and opportunities for savings. Then the consultant will either renegotiate current supplier contracts or negotiate a better-quality, cheaper alternative supplier and work with the school to set up new contracts, and provide an ongoing service to realise further savings into the future. All this is usually free to the school, on a contingency fee agreed between the consultants and the school, based on the amount that the school has saved.
Up and coming fundraising training events
It might be worth investing in attending a fundraising training event, as the skills learned could potentially earn much for your institution in the future. There are many courses available around the country aimed directly at school fundraisers. Typically they would cover the best methods of accessing funds for schools through to how to target and match funding proposals to the most relevant trust funds.
Online schools funding resources
Grants4Schools is an online subscription service which lists grant trusts that work with schools as well as providing the latest funding news and opportunities, updated on a daily basis. For more information see: www.grants4schools.info
The Grants4Schools mind map of grant trusts identifies over 40 grant programmes that support extended schools activities and there are a number of case studies on its website to help schools think ambitiously.
The Garfield Western Foundation awarded Brackenbury Primary School £10,000 to help with the renovation of a disused and derelict Victorian school building, with the aim to creating a new space for the arts and sport as well as breakfast and other after school clubs and group activities.
The Onside Partnership of six Devon schools and a local theatre in Exeter received a grant of £15,000 from the Paul Hamlyn Foundation. Using sport as a unifying theme, the Onside Partnership is bringing these schools and the theatre together to work on a series of collaborative projects involving students, teachers, artists and professional sports people, enabling the schools to work outside the normal confines of school boundaries (both physical and in terms of the curriculum and timetable).
As an example of a smaller project, the Ernest Cook Trust gave £1.7m last year to support 450 school projects such as Snettisham Primary School, King's Lynn which received a grant of £2,157 to help with the cost of the drumming club.
Fundraising skill accreditation via distance learning
For ongoing help with writing a bid application, many schools have signed up with Fundraising Skills UK, which runs a distance learning training course in writing grant applications, especially designed for business managers and accredited to level 3. The course consists of 24 hours of guided learning and is designed to be completed online over a six-week period with the aim of completing one module per week. Participants are encouraged to write a real funding application and receive coaching and feedback from an online tutor to make the bid as effective as possible.
According to Dawn Henry, extended schools coordinator for the Shoreditch Trust, East London, ‘We have raised over £100,000 towards a Saturday school and other intergenerational projects.' Through the course, West Houghton High School's business manager has raised £20,000 from Awards for All and Green Spaces for extended schools provision over the last 12 months. For more information see: www.fundraisingskills.co.uk/
Involving pupils is an essential aspect and can bring the funding application process to life. A school funding consultant was worried when pupils chose football as the focus for a primary school's Awards for All bid. However, when she asked the pupils more about their ideas they said what they really wanted was a Brazilian Football club. It is this that she believes, brought a freshness to the application which was duly successful.