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Technology Grants and Funding for Schools UK

Technology Grants and Funding for Schools UK

Technology in the classroom has a profound impact on learning, with many teachers and parents keen to utilise and maximise the benefits. Technology offers a responsive and resilient approach to teaching, and allows schools to adapt to new teaching approaches and pupils’ needs much faster than traditional methods.

However, there is often one barrier: Funding.

There’s no hiding away from the fact that a well-equipped, functional, and effective suite of technology is a big upfront investment to any educational institution. Whether it’s a suite of iMacs for your IT department or a range of iPads for the Music department, the power to transform your pupils’ learning and provide an engaging learning environment comes with a price tag. The good news is that there are a range of funding options available to you - not only in the way of one-off grants but in flexible financial mechanisms that will please the schools’ accountant just as much as your students!

How can my School get funding?

In this article, we wanted to run through some funding options available to your school, either for you to investigate further and present to your SLT, or to begin the process yourself.

If at any point you require further information please contact us and we will be happy to help find suitable information and support you through the application process.

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What funding is available for Schools?

Funding broadly falls into three categories:
  • Purchase Leasing - A purchasing lease is available to independent schools with monthly, quarterly or annual payments made on equipment that you source from a supplier. Thanks to their flexibility, they allow you to purchase pretty much anything you need and can adjust repayment plans to suit budgets.
  • Operating Leases - state school & independent schools can only take out operating leases. Operating leases let schools pay a certain amount each year to use the equipment and at the end of the lease period have two options; start a new lease and get new equipment, or schools can switch to a more modest rental agreement for subsequent years if they wish to continue to use the original equipment. Operating Leases do not include any form of ‘credit’ and are Hire based.
  • Grants - While a “free” source of money, they are often highly competitive.

Leasing

Over £1bn a year is supplied in leasing funding, with over 3500 agreements made in the UK. Some confusion has crept into the industry where DfE guidelines state that schools must avoid taking “credit”.

However “Operating Leases” are not classed as credit. The lease provider retains ownership of the equipment, renting it to the School. This gives far more flexibility in both repayment plans and what you can “lease”. As equipment is rented rather than owned, it is far easier for you to swap out technology and be more responsive to the schools needs.

The main benefit of leasing is that it can apply to a wide range of equipment from IT all the way through to musical instruments or classroom furniture. Thanks to this flexibility, whether you need to refit a whole department or just a single classroom, leasing is a cost-effective solution.

There are education specialist providers out there who are able to offer more flexible terms and agreements that fit around an education setting. A traditional bank or lease broker may apply harsher terms, so it is worth seeking out education specialists in the industry who can offer options such as:

  • Changing Repayments Amounts: Specialist brokers will appreciate that yearly budgets change, and are able to accommodate under and overspending into your repayment plans accordingly.
  • Lease equipment you already own - Some providers can buy existing equipment and lease it back to you, providing a quick release of capital for other projects.
  • No-Deposit options - Most leases require minimal or no deposit, and the first payment date can be flexible around the school calendar, deferring up to 9 months in advance.
  • Instant Equipment Access - Due to the yearly budgets and potentially awkward timing of requiring new equipment, some providers are able to offer a “Pay Later” plan where you can update equipment without having to wait for Budgets to arrive.
  • Regular Future Proofing - At the end of a Lease, a conversation is naturally started about what your equipment needs are. Do you keep what you have, or continue and upgrade? Usually, these conversations only happen when equipment is dilapidated and in need of replacing. Instead, leasing means you are able to assess your equipment needs at any time and upgrade equipment to respond to the needs of your school.

Navigating funding for new equipment is complex and time consuming.

Contact us today and we will support you through the process - from drafting equipment needs to sourcing and finally arranging the funding you require.

Contact Us

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Grants

Grants differ from Leasing in that they are usually one-off cash injections without the need for regular repayments. They are also much more competitive to “win” with a more limited pool of what can and can’t be done with them.

Due to their nature, Grants are much more resource and time-consuming than leasing. They require considered research to find a suitable grant, as well as strategy and time in writing your application proposal. However in the long run they are usually cheaper as there is no commitment to repayment. For example the Grants4Schools directory has hundreds of applications open at any one time that all have specific eligibility criteria. These can range from local sports equipment funding all the way to infrastructure investments such as on-site wind turbines. One consideration when applying for grants is to enlist an expert to support you through the process. This can speed things up as they will have access to the latest information and be able to avoid out of date resources and can give you an edge when applying if they know which boxes to tick - sometimes literally.

When searching for grants, there are a few key eligibility considerations:
  • Location - Many grants are based on local trusts and community-focused, so you’ll need to refine by postcode
  • School Type - Some grants are restricted to Primary Schools or certain age brackets
  • Subject Application - What is the grant for? As mentioned, some are for topic specific such as sports equipment, while others may be looking for community impact projects where the school can get involved with power generation or international visits.
Some further resources to check out:
  • FundEd - Wide range of resources, tips and guides for applications and other fundraising ideas
  • Grants 4 Schools - Search for open and closed Grants with filters
  • AandsLandscape - One long list of grants available, no filter.
  • National Lottery Fund - Search for Grants based on amount, region and look for historical applications. This can be a great resource for finding what local organisations have also been awarded grants.
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What are the benefits of funding?

One of the main desires for finance is to upgrade ageing and tired equipment. Such upgrades can help keep your school ahead of the curve with the latest technology, provide a better educational experience for your students as well as demonstrating your organisation’s proactive approach to learning to parents and OFSTED alike.

Financial Planning

While grants are slightly more complex one-off injections of cash, leasing agreements offer a regular and predictable way of managing your budget. The agreements can be structured to fit in around the rest of the demands of your school’s budget.

If you suddenly have unexpected external costs to consider, then leasing can also offer a flexible financial method of either freeing up cash quickly through owned equipment leasing, or by allowing you to defer and reduce payments as necessary. These simply aren’t avenues available to you if you buy all equipment outright.

Want to know more about the benefits of technology in the classroom? Read our other blog here...

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Technology Grants For Schools

While there are many types of grants and funding available, here are the best places to look for technology-specific grants.

If you require assistance with applying for funding, please get in touch.

  • Grants Online - A huge database of grants at various levels. Filter by category, location, organisation type and status.

We suggest taking some time to browse through Grants Online to understand the options available, and to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

We’re happy to provide support and recommendations for fundraising whether it’s through board level activities, parent associations or other finance agreements.

Contact Us

Funding for Private Schools

Due to their independent status, Private schools are able to access more flexible funding and can access both Operating Leases as well as Lease Purchase plans.

State schools are restricted to “Operating Leases” that do not involve credit. Independent schools can choose either. A Lease Purchase agreement would allow the school to make a final balance payment to own the equipment outright, or spread payments monthly, quarterly or annually (the most common method). This final ownership is not possible with operating leases. We’ve worked with many private schools to achieve equipment upgrades through external funding. Get in touch today for support through the process.

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WANT TO FIND OUT MORE?

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