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 classroom or a fleet of iPads for the Music department, the power to provide an engaging learning environment comes with a price tag.
The good news is that there is a range of funding options available to you - not only in the way of one-off grants but with flexible financial mechanisms that will please the school’s accountant just as much as your students!
How can my school get funding
In this article, we will 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.
What funding is available for schools?
Schools can fund their equipment through leasing, grants, or wholesale purchase.
Before 2022, state schools were only able to take out operating leases. Finance or purchasing leases for non-independent schools required approval from the Secretary of State. However, the implementation of IFRS 16 has led to the simplification of this process and allowed all schools to sign both operating and purchase leases without approval.
Purchasing leases are available to 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 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 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.
While a “free” source of money, they are often highly competitive.
Purchasing technology wholesale can help to reduce costs for your Multi-Academy Trust or school. Read our article on purchasing iPads wholesale.
Over £1bn a year is supplied in leasing funding, with over 3500 agreements made in the UK. Operating Leases give more flexibility in both repayment plans and what you can lease as the equipment is rented rather than owned. This also means it is far easier for you to swap out technology and be more responsive to your school's needs. Purchase leases allow schools to make a final balance payment to own the equipment outright, or spread payments monthly, quarterly or annually, find out why leasing can beat inflation.
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.
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.
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:
Many grants are based on local trusts and community-focused, so you’ll need to refine by postcode.
Some grants are restricted to primary schools or certain age brackets.
What is the grant for? As mentioned, some are 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
AndsLandscape - One long list of grants available, no filter.
National Lottery Fund - Search for grants based on amount and region and look for historical applications. This can be a great resource for finding what local organisations have also been awarded grants.
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 demonstrate your organisation’s proactive approach to learning to parents and OFSTED alike.
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 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.
Technology grants for schools
While there are many types of grants and funding available, the best place to look for technology-specific grants is Grants Online. This is a huge database of grants at various levels that can be filtered 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!