So far I have been a Business Manager in two different schools. When I think about things like Ofsted ratings, demographics, borough, roll numbers I can see glaring differences between the two. But what they have in common (as with all schools I hope) is the drive and desire to make it a wonderful experience for the children who come through their doors.
Now, I’m not a teacher so my contact time with the children is minimal. So you might ask how does this apply to me. Surely that’s for the teachers and teaching assistants to worry about. On the contrary, I probably have one of the biggest parts to play in making our school a wonderful place to learn.
As a school with low numbers of children on roll this means we have limited funding (even with a fairly decent Pupil Premium Grant allocation). We don’t have as much money to play with as some other schools do and that’s where I come in. I think it may be written in invisible ink on my job description but a key part of my role is to be able to “pull a rabbit out of a hat”. I have to be creative and think of different ways to generate income and sponsorship in a way I didn’t have to in my previous school.
It means that I am constantly on the look out for ideas. It may be seeing how other schools have done it – what grants have they applied for and been awarded? How have they had a successful fundraising campaign? Or I have been known to scout out businesses with a presence in the vicinity of the school and send an email or make a phone call to see how they can support us. When it comes to applying for funding from the LA I always submit several bids in the hope that at least one (or more) will be approved.
It can be hit and miss but it’s most definitely worth the effort to keep constantly plugging away at it. The feeling I get when I’m successful in securing additional funds for our school is an amazing one. It feels so exciting to be able to put ideas in to practice. It’s great to see the pupils benefitting from these well laid plans. Recently our SENDCo explained to me the intricacies of introducing a Nurture Group in school and we’d need to kit out a dedicated room to host it. The whole concept sounded great so I put my thinking cap on. Luckily for me, one email to a construction company working in our local area was enough to lure them in to come and see what I was banging on about. They were sold on the idea and agreed to fund it there and then. It’s not always that easy but it was wonderful to see the SENDCo’s face when I told her the outcome of my meeting.
So whilst I have to remind myself that I can’t say yes to everything I will always try to pull that rabbit out of the hat. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
Do you have any top tips for getting external investment in your school? Please share them with me – I need all the help I can get.