With rising concerns over education funding around the country, and governors warning of a budget crisis, taking on a new building project may seem out of the question for many schools. But with the demand for school places increasing exponentially, teachers are having to accommodate more and more pupils with limited space and resources. The first port of call for all schools should be the local authorities but increasingly, schools are looking outside of the traditional sources of funding to improve their facilities. The local community can be a great source of support, whether financial or volunteering. There are also hundreds of non-repayable grants available for schools.
The first contact for school funding should be your local authorities. In 2015 the Government introduced character grants worth £6 million for schools which work hard to develop well-rounded students. These schools go beyond the academic requirements to provide pupils with extra-curricular activities like music and sport which help instill important life skills like resilience and respect.
In particular, they are looking for schools which encourage children aged 5 to 16 to participate in character-building activities and environments. The skills they are looking for are those which will help children achieve in an academic setting, as well as in their future working life. More broadly, they want to assist schools which develop well-rounded citizens who contribute to British society.
CHARITABLE GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR SCHOOLS
Outside of government funding there are a multitude of non-repayable grants specifically targeting the education sector. One such initiative is the Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All grant. It offers grants all year round of between £300 and £10,000 for activities and projects which enrich the lives of a local community. Due to the high demand, they recommend that you apply at least four months before your project commences. They will provide funding for a range of activities including event hosting, purchasing equipment and running training courses. For more expensive projects, schools might consider the Wolfson Foundation, an independent charity which grant up to £100,000 to secondary schools and colleges which constantly perform at the highest level, especially in the fields of science and technology. Special Schools can apply for funding of up to £100,000 from their Health and Disability programme. An updated list of opportunities can be found on the grants4schools site as well as advice on how to apply.
LARGE RETAILER DONATIONS
Since October 2015 the law requires large shops in England to charge 5p for all single-use plastic carrier bags. The Government then expects the retailers to donate the proceeds of the scheme to good causes of their choice. This means that there is millions of pounds available from these retailers who are looking to donate these funds to local community projects. In the first six months of the scheme alone at least £29.2 million was donated to good causes including schools. You can apply for these grants directly from the retailers, and such schemes include the Tesco Bags of Help programme, One Stop Carriers for Causes, WHSmith Trust Community Grants, Waitrose Community Matters, Co-op Local Community Fund, and the Asda Foundation to name a few.
Another particularly effective method of funding is to reach out to the local community. You might appeal to local businesses for sponsorship of a project, reminding them of the valuable role your school plays in the local community. If you are extending your school, you could perhaps acknowledge a donor’s contribution by naming the new building after them. A new modular classroom could also be hired out to other groups in the community after construction to make money back on the investment.
There are a number of grants available for schools looking to fund new projects. If you are interested in building a modular classroom for your school, be sure to consider our financing options and spread the cost over a longer period of time.