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How state schools are bridging the funding gap

SPONSORED: We have now reached a point where it is impossible to deny that state schools are struggling

Posted by Joe Lawson-West | March 26, 2018 | Supplier News

Despite the supposed ring fencing of education when austerity measures were introduced by the government in 2010, we have now reached a point where it is impossible to deny that state schools are struggling. Increased employment-related costs, the apprenticeship levy and the impact of inflation means that the financial resources headteachers have available to spend on school services are significantly lower in real terms. Special needs support, counsellors, school libraries and even textbooks are falling by the wayside as a result. We’re also seeing some innovative solutions emerging however. What could your school do to bridge the funding gap?

Alumni contributions

Although universities are also feeling the pinch, they have a source of funding that most schools do not – donations from their former students. Now schools are starting to build their own alumni networks as a means of attracting donations. High earnings are not exclusively the privilege of those with degrees and even people on modest incomes are often happy to give something back if they’ve had a good school experience. Networks like this can also be helpful when you need to find volunteers to help with school activities, or when you want to arrange work experience placements. Start by going through lists of former pupils, using social media to track them down, and inviting them to sign up to an alumni mailing list.

Sponsored events

A longstanding tradition for schools seeking extra money is the organisation of sponsored events. When children are sponsored, it gives them a sense of purpose and helps them feel that the things the school can buy as a result represent their own achievement. It builds money management skills and confidence in dealing with adults. There are all sorts of things children can be sponsored for, so you don’t have to limit it to sports. Drawing, writing and drama projects can be just as suitable. You can even ask children to come up with ideas, giving them an extra reason to engage.

School fêtes

Although they require quite a bit of organisation, school fêtes are a lot of fun and can be a great way to raise money, not least because they bring together a lot of different activities so there’s usually something for everyone. Raffles and tombolas can be surprisingly lucrative, and games like coconut shies or beat the goalie cost very little to run. What’s more, a fête brings together lots of parents and sometimes other local people interested in supporting the school, so it can be an opportunity to chat to them one to one, discuss what the school needs money for and solicit individual donations.

Donation platforms

Professional online donation platforms like the National Funding Scheme make it much easier for people to donate money to you whenever they feel the urge. There are lots of different ways you can connect to those for best results. Once you have such a set-up in place, you can raise the subject whenever it’s convenient – in person or, say, on your website or by way of posters in local shop windows – and people can instantly send cash to you via their phones. You can also arrange for people to commit to small, regular donations, which help a lot because they help you to be able to predict your future income.

The long-term outlook

Philip Hammond’s Spring Statement suggested a gradually shifting attitude in the government that might see it easing back on austerity within the next two years. Although it’s difficult to predict how Brexit will affect the economy, it appears there is increasing interest in investing more in public services, and other political parties are ready to support that. With this in mind, it makes more sense for schools to focus on the problems they face in the immediate term than to worry about how they will cope over the next decade.

While funding remains low it also makes sense for schools to focus on long-term investment – that is, putting the money they do have into projects that will pay dividends over the longer term. That could mean anything from investing in new gym equipment to providing teachers with additional training so they can take on some of the duties traditionally assigned to support staff on an occasional basis. Headteachers need to think about how they can market each such project to potential funders, from corporations to private citizens. There is money out there to be had – you just need to educate yourself on how to get it.

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