School child saving money in a piggy bank

School income checklist

Read our checklist to see which opportunities could help you generate more school income.

Schools’ outgoings seem to be endless. Staffing costs and energy prices keep rising, while, thanks to inflation, most other expenses are increasing too. It’s no wonder school leaders are struggling to make their budgets stretch. If, like many others, you have already exhausted all cost-cutting opportunities, it may be wise to shift your focus to bolstering your school income.

Consider our checklist of potential school income sources to see which opportunities could help your school generate more revenue.

Increase your government funding allocation

✔ Attract more students

Schools across England will benefit from an increase in government support in 2024/25. At almost £60 billion, education funding will be the highest ever level in real terms. The schools national funding formula allocates over 75% of funding through the basic entitlement, which every pupil attracts. Therefore, if classes are significantly undersized, the school may find itself underfunded. Work towards attracting more enrolments, and the associated funding, by hosting open days, undertaking community outreach projects and improving your school’s website and social media presence.

✔ Encourage uptake of Free School Meals

You may be shocked to learn that 11% of FSM eligible families do not claim their children’s free lunches. We recently looked into the reasons for this and how schools can help. Every child claiming FSM at your school increases your Pupil Premium allocation, enriching the child’s learning experiences whilst helping to bolster the school’s finances.

Unlock the earning potential of school spaces

✔ Hire facilities out to community clubs

Hire out your school’s sports facilities and assembly hall to local clubs and fitness classes when they aren’t in use. This generates extra school income, while boosting the school’s reputation within your community. Most clubs meet regularly, providing a reliable income stream throughout the year. Hiring out school spaces needn’t create an extra burden for your admin team. Our Lettings module simplifies the whole process, from booking to invoicing.

✔ Open your school to event hire

In many communities, there are few affordable venue options for larger events, such as birthday parties and charity fundraisers. School halls and gyms therefore, offer a great solution. They have a large capacity and can be used flexibly, adapting to the needs of any event.  Helping your community by facilitating important social events also embeds the school as a core pillar of your local area.

✔ Consider the value of outdoor spaces

Your car park or playground could provide further opportunities to generate school income. Try reaching out to community groups to offer the school site as an affordable venue for outdoor events. On weekends or during school holidays, you could offer parking facilities or an open space for your community to run fetes, craft fairs or car boot sales.

Men playing basketball in a school gym

Raise school income through fundraising

✔ Bake sales, book sales and more

Fundraising sales are a fun and unobtrusive way to generate a little extra income. This can increase parent engagement too. Most families will be happy to contribute to school fundraisers by baking tasty treats or donating items which their children have outgrown. Schedule a seasonal event each term, such as an Easter bake sale, a back-to-school book fair or a second-hand toy stall at Christmas time.

✔ School performances, fetes, and parties

Often, the Christmas play, end of year party and summer fete are the most highly-anticipated events in the school calendar. These special events are a wonderful way to celebrate the end of a successful term, and bring families into the school community. They also provide a perfect opportunity for fundraising. For example, parents will be happy to contribute a few pounds, to pay for their seat at the nativity, some light refreshments and a small donation to the school.

✔ Voluntary contributions

Many schools are now asking for increased parental contributions. With the rising financial pressures schools are under, many parents are willing to donate money for the benefit of their child’s education. Claiming Gift Aid can also potentially add 25p of school income to every £1 donated by parents. See our recent article for advice on how to harness the potential of school donations.

Corporate sponsorships and advertising

School business leader and business owner shaking hands

✔ Promotional opportunities

Local businesses and even larger organisations can benefit from the promotional power of schools in their communities. In exchange for donating to a specific project or event, or an ongoing sponsorship, schools can offer a range of advertising opportunities. This could include an entry on the school website, a mention in the newsletter, flyers or event programmes on noticeboards, and even banners on school fences.

✔ Corporate responsibility

Businesses may also wish to financially support local schools to meet their corporate responsibility goals, or even from pure altruism. It can be well worth researching the businesses in your locality and enquiring about any funding opportunities they may have.

✔ Free or discounted goods and services

Sponsorship could also include cost savings, rather than money coming in. When considering any potential new expenditure, think about what local companies offer and whether donated goods or services could reduce the school’s outgoings. By asking for support, the school could secure free or discounted sports equipment for clubs, professionally printed posters or flyers for events, and even classroom supplies.

Research available grants

✔ Local government

Make sure to regularly check local council websites for any grant opportunities. Your Local Education Authority may contact schools directly, but you are likely to find some sort of grant scheme in place at all levels of local government, from country to district and even parish councils. Also, see if you can sign up for email alerts, so you never miss a new opportunity.

✔ National companies

Many large companies, from banks to supermarkets, run grant schemes for non-profit organisations, including schools. Try searching online for the corporate responsibility webpages of any big-name companies, especially those who operate in your school’s locality.

✔ Specific causes

If your school is looking to undertake a particular project requiring extra expenditure, try searching online to see if there is funding available for such a purpose. There are many organisations which set out to fund initiatives such as improving children’s access to sport, ecological projects and breakfast clubs.

Think outside the box: offer services to your community

✔ Cafés and coffee mornings

It may not be suitable for everyone, but some schools with the necessary infrastructure are able to run a café, open to members of the public, selling teas, coffees & snacks during certain hours or days of the week. A successful example can be seen in the Ribbon Academy’s Community Café which opens to the public each Friday lunchtime. In some cases, such as Woodlands Secondary School in Luton, school cafés can even be used as a work experience opportunity for older students. A more widely accessible option for schools without this kind of dedicated space may be to run parents’ coffee mornings on certain days in the school cafeteria. For example, The Friends of Horley Infant School run half termly coffee mornings, amongst other fundraising events.

✔ Photocopying and printing

In the digital age, home printers are less and less common, so when individuals or community groups do need documents printed or copied, it can be difficult to find an accessible, affordable service. Park Community School in Hampshire spotted an opportunity, and now offer printing services for paper products, as well as mugs, t-shirts and more. Most school offices are equipped with a photocopier, which can easily be put to use to help members of the public, while earning a small profit to boost school income.

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