School sets up fund to raise £4m

A secondary school in Essex has become one of the first in the country to set up a professional charitable arm in direct competition with other local fundraising organisations.

Philip Morant School in Colchester, Essex, has employed a professional fundraiser with experience of the voluntary sector to help run its new charitable development fund, which has been established to raise £4 million for building refurbishments.

Education experts predict that this could become a national trend as more schools face funding shortages. "Now that schools have been given more freedom over how to spend their budgets, some may well have dipped into their buildings budget to cover teachers' salaries," said Katie Sylvester, editor of specialist education magazine SecEd.

"It is possible that more schools might start to raise funds in this way when faced with a shortfall. Schools are becoming more and more innovative in their approach to funding."

Philip Morant School decided to set up the charity because the funding it receives from the local education authority is insufficient to maintain and redevelop the outdated buildings and grounds.

"We get £100,000 a year, but with a school housing 2,000 people covering a 34-acre site, that doesn't even pay for the plans," said Paul Harrison, finance director at Philip Morant School.

Private schools have used fundraising trusts to pay for the upkeep of buildings, grounds and sports facilities for some time, but most state schools have rarely ventured beyond Parent Teacher Associations and smaller campaigns for buying IT equipment.

"Our PTA raises £5,000 to £10,000 a year through events such as fetes and quiz nights," said Harrison. "The development fund will raise £4 million through a range of larger events and we will also be applying to grant-making trusts."

The school is compiling a database of trusts across Europe and has organised a celebrity football match with Ipswich Town football club.

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