Need funds? Talk to your community!

Therese Hoyle

Therese Hoyle is founder and chief facilitator of Therese Hoyle Consultancies. Since 1997, Therese has worked nationally and internationally with over 450 schools and organisations, and with more than 14,500 individuals, inspiring them with her Positive Playtime, Social, Emotional and Wellbeing programmes. She is author of three books, and works with Optimus Education as a wellbeing consultant and adviser, and with the DfE as a Women leading in Education coach. Contact her on [email protected] / 0800 311 8991.

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Images courtesy of author / St Barnabas CE Primary School. // Fundraising with Mother’s Day flowers! Images courtesy of author / St Barnabas CE Primary School. // Fundraising with Mother’s Day flowers!

Many schools are looking for solutions to make their spaces - classrooms and playgrounds - stimulating areas for children. From my own areas of expertise, I frequently suggest zoning their playground and creating a performance zone, though this - as with many school improvements - can be costly. These benefits can be huge, though - just look at the below video of pupils dancing in their own outdoor performance area:

YouTube link

To afford the developments they’d like to make, I’m always keen to let schools know about grant and funding opportunities. One of my “Playgrounds should be stimulating places.”favourites is Tesco’s 'Bags of Help' local community grant scheme, which funds thousands of projects in communities across the UK...

Projects looking to be funded need to bring benefit to their community, such as developing school outdoor spaces or buying new equipment. I was so excited when Pippa Jones from Romanby Primary School in Northallerton contacted me to say she’s won £12,000 in funding to build a school stage:

We made an application, and I am delighted to let you know that we have won the top prize of £12,000 to use for our Outdoor Stage and Performance Area Project. We are all very excited about the project!”

Securing the funding

Tesco still do offer funding, though it’s now up to £4,000, and administered slightly differently from the one Pippa applied for. Projects that they say will get the green light include: developing an outdoor space play area, allotment, park, school grounds, woodland or wildlife area and community gardens.

Administration of the local funding is being managed by the community charity with a green heart, Groundwork, which specialises in transforming communities and the local environment for the better. Information is available at:

YouTube link

Sport England also have a Community Asset Fund. This a new capital fund dedicated to enhancing the spaces in local community. It’s now open for applications, and is looking for more community groups to come forward with bids.

Other options to raise money can include PTA fundraising events, cake sales, tea towel sales (with hand-drawn pictures of every child in the school), non-uniform days, and sponsored silences (may be very popular!) to name but a few.

How to get your community involved in fundraising

St Barnabas CE Primary School in Worcester has been doing a fantastic fundraising job to build their stage and performance zone. Lucy Merrett, the teacher who is responsible for outdoor learning and developing Positive Playtimes, has worked hard with headteacher Sarah Hanson to get the community involved. She recently shared with me all that they’ve been doing.

Initially they launched the project by way of a photo of the prospective stage on a blank board, with a thermometer next to it and the total amount they needed. They did this during two parents evenings and left a ceramic fundraising jar on display that said “Stage Fund!” (you can get plain jars from Hobbycraft for £6).

Then they held an assembly to explain to the children that they were hoping to raise money to build the stage. This coincided with “The school sent a letter to parents sharing the fundraising project.”a letter to parents sharing the fundraising project, where they asked for ideas to help reach their target. A number of parents came forward with ideas, and the school has been lucky to have some donations from parents, grandparents and the wider community.

Ideas have included:

  • Setting up an easyfundraising page and encouraging parents to sign up and shop online.
  • Discos for all year groups with a tuck shop.
  • A ‘guess the teacher’s baby photo’ competition.
  • A raffle (they wrote a letter to local companies asking for prizes, so there was no cost to the school).

They ran a Christmas arts event after school with a 'Jar-bola' (this was a parent suggestion). This involved the children decorating the outside of jars and filling them with small toys/sweets/stickers for a competition, with two winners per class (the prizes were donated by Tesco and Wise Owl Toys, with both companies sending a judge for the competition).

On the Friday before Mother's Day they held a plant sale (pictured top) - this was also initiated by a parent. The Year 6 children ran the stall, and enjoyed a money-based Maths lesson counting the money and working out the profit!

The school isn’t far off target now! Headteacher Sarah Hanson recently told me:

We have currently raised £3,155, and are aiming to raise a further £1,000 through holding a Movie Night and an enterprise event. The aim is to get our outdoor stage fitted and ready to go well before the end of the summer term.”

Well done St Barnabas - I can’t wait to visit!

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