Funding for Schools: unlocking small grants know-how to enrich arts and cultural learning

1st December 2021 - Kayla Herbert

Written by Tess Parker, Story Tiller Communications.


It’s no secret that an arts rich curriculum pays dividends in terms of pupil learning and engagement. But at a time when schools are pressured to ‘perform’ and ‘pare back’ it can be hard to find resources for cultural enrichment. This case study focuses on IVE’s timely ‘Funding for Schools’ Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programme. This course is designed to equip primary and secondary teachers with the confidence and knowhow to apply for small grant funding. Read on to discover how this CPD is already making an impact.

A CPD programme to unlock cultural funding and learning

IVE are passionate about enabling schools to access cultural funds to enrich young lives.

However, despite a wealth of small grant funding options, schools can lack the time and knowhow to draw on these resources. This was the impetus and inspiration behind IVE’s 2020 ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD programme.

When looking for a training development partner with school sector expertise, IVE knew Lisa Jagger of Straight Forward Funding was their woman.

 “Lisa is a small grants specialist with over twenty years of experience preparing winning funding applications. She is also a wonderful trainer in terms of communication, provision of resources and an approachable personality. “ Jess HartProgramme Coordinator, IVE 

Together, IVE and Straight Forward Funding were on a mission to make a difference to teachers and pupils regionwide.  

Remote CPD delivery that leaves a legacy of skills in schools

The advent of COVID-19 meant the ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD programme would be delivered remotely. Lisa harnessed her trademark informal and interactive style to alleviate ‘Zoom Doom.’  

Her and the IVE team were focused on igniting enthusiasm and confidence amongst the teacher cohort.  Participants gained a mix of funding theory and practice, guiding them through research, preparation, and submission steps.  

“Schools can and must access every opportunity to enrich the education of their pupils. Budgets are tight and getting tighter. School staff are facing increasing demands on their time – and sitting down to fill in a grant application is low on the list of priorities. But I have found that once a teacher, or staff member gets their confidence, there is no stopping them!”  Lisa Jagger, Straight Forward Funding.  

How Beck Primary seized the moment to boost their fundraising savvy

Becky Stroud, music teacher at Beck Primary in North Sheffield, is an alumna of the 2020 ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD programme.  

Beck Primary sits within the Cascade Multi Academy Trust  (MAT) which also includes Hucklow, Owler Brook and Whiteways Primary Schools. The trust covers a multicultural locale, with high social deprivation and attainment gaps.   

The advent of COVID-19 in 2020 would upend Becky’s daily routine, with the closure of the music room.  Despite this difficult time, a brilliant new learning opportunity presented itself. 

Becky was excited to sign up for IVE’s ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD. She saw this as a rare moment to enhance her fundraising skills, departmental budget and cross-curricular musical impact. 

Small grant fundamentals to support cultural and social change

Within Beck Primary and the Multi Academy Trust (MAT) COVID-19 had reinforced the need for extra funds to support social change, attainment and wellbeing. This doubly motivated Becky to gain as much as she could from this CPD.  

Becky found the ‘Funding for Schools’ course to be an engaging blend of theory and practice. She loved the way the training was broken down into bite-sized steps, with course notes that could be annotated for future reference. 

“I found Lisa really down-to-earth. She took us through the steps slowly. It helped clarify for me about how to write social change practice into bids.” Becky Stroud 

Buoyed up by the learning experience, Becky was keen to put her new skills to the test. She set about identifying valuable funds for a Multi Academy Trust (MAT) project at this testing time. 

Putting funding knowledge into practice – a Youth Music grant win

Language and social divides within the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) had been flagged as a priority area by the MAT. Lisa signposted Becky to Youth Music as a prospective funder. As supporters of ‘musically inclusive’ projects the Youth Music funding option seemed ideal.

Becky united with creative practitioner and Director of Sheffield-based Concerteenies, Polly Ives. Utilising Becky’s new funding knowledge they drew up an application for their ‘Chatterbox’ project. This 18-month cross-curricular programme was geared to enhance social and verbal language development through music.

The Youth Music grant panel were impressed with the inclusive, social change focus of the proposal. As a result, Beck Primary and the wider Cascade Multi Academy Trust (MAT) were awarded an amazing £30,000. On notification of their win Becky and her colleagues were more than a little overwhelmed, “We were a bit shell-shocked! We were really excited though.”

Becky believes that the ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD gave her the confidence and vocabulary to structure this bid.

“I would not have gone for the Youth Music monies had I not done these sessions. I felt like Lisa gave me a lot of the language and understanding of how trusts work. I’d got pockets of money before but never this big; she basically gave me the toolkit.” Becky Stroud

Whilst COVID-19 has meant an extension of the project until July 2023. It is hoped that this shall ensure a deeper impact for teachers, pupils and families alike. For Becky, this learning experience has provided a “new understanding and language, with tools to take away.”

Becky feels that she has grown both personally and professionally because of the ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD; she is excited about what the future might hold.

‘Funding for Schools’ CPD makes cultural magic happen

This is a case study about the magic that happens when the right facilitator, learning material and recipients come together.  

By equipping teachers like Becky with small grant funding knowhow, IVE and Straight Forward Funding have set dominoes of creativity in motion.  

As they look to 2022, IVE are keen to build on the early success of the ‘Funding for Schools’ programme. They believe that by investing in this teacher CPD schools are better placed to nurture arts and cultural learning into the future. 

“We know that schools can sometimes struggle to fund creative opportunities for pupils, and they are not always sure how and where they can access funding. Our ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD sessions are designed to help. Becky’s story is a brilliant example of how useful these sessions can be for teachers and their school communities.” Verity Clarke, Programme Director, IVE 

If you are interested in attending future ‘Funding for Schools’ CPD sessions, please contact Project Lead Jess Hart on jess@weareive.org. For other IVE CPD success stories, check out this case study on their Creative Approaches to Hidden Narratives programme.

Download the full case study as a PDF here

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