Applying for a grant takes time and effort but having a case for support will help, says development manager Sharon Noble, whose south London school secured two successive grants from The Wolfson Foundation

Applying in 2015 ‘One of my first priorities on joining Chestnut Grove Academy was to get funding for our DT department. This was to be redeveloped under the Priority Schools Building Programme, but we had no money for furniture in the new specialist rooms, and much of the machinery was out of date. We also needed to increase our scope for Computer Aided Design (CAD) with a class bank of laptop computers. The obvious starting point was

the Wolfson Foundation, which has a history of assisting state schools to improve teaching at GCSE and A-level through a capital grants scheme. Before applying, I worked through

the priorities and aims of our project with the DT department and SLT so that we could create a compelling case for support. We knew that demand to

22 AUTUMN 2021 FundEd

study DT was increasing and many FSM students were achieving well in it, but we still needed to justify why we needed funding. Knowing that better equipment

would create more opportunities for all students for many years to come, we came up with the project: Chestnut21 – Updating essential design and technology equipment to provide enhanced learning for our students and prepare them for the 21st century. We backed up the proposal with internal statistics and case studies, as well as regional and national statistics. Having done this groundwork in

advance, the one-page stage one application form was very straightforward. We were delighted to be invited to the second stage application, where more information was required. Once again, a lot of our initial preparation came in

useful once again, though it did take time to collate data (including tables of exam results, leavers’ data for recent years, as well as the demographics of the students broken down into year groups). We also had to break down our

budget using Wolfson’s proforma forms, and show where matched funding had been sourced. The information was submitted by email, together with a letter of endorsement from the headteacher. Before the trustees’ decision-

making meeting took place, a member of Wolfson’s expert advisory panel came to meet the head, business manager, DT department and myself. They wanted to see the existing facility and understand what the new one would look like. This was a very useful visit, though it took time to brief staff and prepare the paperwork. In December 2015, we received the

fantastic news that we’d been successful in our bid for £39,000. The impact of the award was incredible, enabling us to expand our DT provision to include CAD, CAM, and to purchase additional equipment such as the 3D printer. The attainment levels of our students improved, the gap between FSM and non-FSM students has closed and we’ve been able to provide new extra-curricular opportunities.’

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