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Three Top Tips for School-based Projects

September 4, 2020

With schools in Northern Ireland back for the first time in months, we’ve seen a rise in applications for school projects and equipment.

We can fund schools, groups applying on behalf of schools like PTAs and ‘Friends of’ groups, and charities that work in schools, as long as they’re able to show the project is open to the wider community.

The most popular way we fund schools is through our National Lottery Awards for All programme. And we’ve funded lots of fantastic school-based projects over the years.

Unfortunately though, many of the more recent applications we’ve received are for things we can’t fund.

With that in mind, here’s our top three tips if you are applying for funding to do work in a school:

1. Steer clear of teaching time

We can’t fund school-based activities during teaching time. This is the case whether you are a school applying for a grant, or a charity applying to run some activities for pupils in a school.

Even if the activities are quite different from normal lessons, we can’t fund them if they will replace teaching activity.

Before school and after school are fine, as are break times and lunchtime.

If there’s no other time the activities could happen it’s best to speak to us before applying, and we’ll keep you right.

2. Avoid applying for equipment that could be used in school teaching time

This is a common request, but isn’t something we can fund.

For example, we are unlikely to fund sports equipment that could be used in P.E. lessons or computers for IT classes. This is the case even if the equipment will also sometimes be used outside of school hours.

We understand that COVID-19 social distancing rules mean many schools want to install outdoor teaching areas to ease the pressure on classrooms. Unfortunately, this isn’t something we can fund. We aren’t allowed to fund equipment that will mostly be used for teaching the school curriculum, even in these difficult circumstances.

3. Make sure to involve the wider community

The main point here for schools is this: we are unlikely to fund work that only, or mainly, benefits school pupils or staff.

We look for wider community involvement in any work we fund – in schools or otherwise.

If you’d like more information on this or what it means, don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

For us, the best examples of this are when you have asked your community ‘what would you like to do?’ rather than ‘do you support this idea we’ve already come up with’ or ‘would you like to do this free activity we have arranged?’

Some examples

Here are some examples of things we couldn’t fund, based on some recent applications:

  • Stationery supplies for children returning to school
  • Installation of outdoor classroom to allow lessons in the playground
  • Computers and iPads for IT lessons within school hours.

We also receive many applications for improvements to school grounds for the sole benefit of pupils, which is something we are less likely to fund.

So what can we fund?

There’s lots of things we could consider funding as well.

If it’s happening outside of school teaching time, and meaningfully involves people from the wider community, then we’ll consider it.

For example, as long as the project involves or is open to the wider community, we might fund things like:

  • An after-school drama production that is performed over Zoom for local care homes
  • A food club where local people are invited to work alongside pupils to grow food on a community garden
  • Sensory Gardens that can be accessed by the wider community

If in doubt, talk to us.

And finally, remember – we’re always happy to have a chat about your idea before you apply, so don’t hesitate to get in touch if you aren’t sure.

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