In a world of tightening budgets and cutbacks, it is often hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel and this applies especially in the ever-demanding education sector. All teachers understand that if we address children’s well-being and happiness, they will be more content, more focused and more likely to achieve their true potential.
We all want to support our children on their life journey, to help them develop a joy for learning and to open up all the possibilities for learners to leading a successful and happy life both now and into the future.
So as an extremely busy Nursery Nurse, Head Teacher, Teacher, Subject Co-ordinator, Senior Leader or Business Manager, you may have lots of exciting ideas on how you’d like to improve your children’s wellbeing, but life may just be too hectic to allow you to investigate the funding options that are currently there to help you to make your good intentions into reality.
At Schoolscapes we are here to make your life easier and to help you take advantage of the funding that is there for you right now. It would always be great to get more money allocated to schools and there has been some criticism of the one-off “little bit extra” £400 million Additional Capital Funding (ACF) payments for schools in 2018-2019, but I’ve been taking a look into it and once you get past the fact that we will always need more money for schools, its actually refreshing to read the recommendations for using the funding, that supports learning in the outdoors and improving learning environments.
There are also some other interesting funding options that School Leaders are currently talking of currently to create stimulating and inspirational outdoors learning provisions for their pupils; both the £350 million extra SEND funding and the Healthy Pupils Capital Fund (HPCF) are there to be used to support pupils’ learning, and the outdoor environment is both a recommended and well-documented way to improve pupils’ learning and well-being.
Below is an outline of 3 of the main funding options currently available for you. We also have lots of examples of how schools are spending the ACF that their schools have received this February as well as the HPCF and SEND funding that is available.
There’ll be no stopping you going to see your Business Manager well equipped with hard evidence that there is currently funding out there that can be legitimately spent on improving well-being through developing your outdoors areas and supporting children’s learning in the great outdoors. Now that is exciting news for any educator!
1. High Needs Additional Funding (SEND Funding)
In December 2018 Education Secretary Damian Hinds announced an additional £350 million to support children with complex needs and disabilities across the two financial years 2018 to 2019, and 2019 to 2020 (including £100 million of SEN capital funding in 2019-20 for councils).
The government hopes that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will benefit greatly from the provision of more specialist support and tailored facilities, helping those with complex needs to succeed. The councils will receive an additional £250 million over the next two years on top of the £6 billion already provided for the high needs budget this year.
At Schoolscapes we always design our play spaces to be as inclusive and as accessible as possible. We believe in the right of all children to be able to play alongside each other and try to provide something for everyone.
We can tailor our products to match the heights, age, abilities and needs of the individuals, making each play space as supportive and accessible as possible within every unique setting. We want children to become independent learners and to be able to explore and discover without hindrance.
We are particularly proud of the joy and exhilaration that all children can now experience alongside each other, through our colourful Inclusive Wheelchair Swing and our sensational Inclusive Roundabout. All children can have the chance to get up high and look down on the world from our Inclusive Hexagonal Hive.
With our wheelchair accessible picnic benches, opportunities for sensory stimulation from gardening, loose material play and musical instruments… we can create truly accessible play spaces where children can learn happily side by side.
See our case study on how we helped Regency High School to create a wonderful play space, that inspired all its pupils to have fun and get active, creative and adventurous in the great outdoors.
2. Additional Capital Funding (ACF) 2018-2019
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The chancellor said that this funding would amount to an average of £10k per primary school, extending to £15k – £20k for larger primary schools.
Who is eligible for the £400 million ACF announced in the chancellors 2018 Budget?
- Maintained nursery schools
- Maintained primary and secondary schools
- Academies and free schools (including studio schools, UTCs and alternative provision)
- Pupil referral units
- Special schools
- Non-maintained special schools
- Sixth form colleges
- Special post-16 institutions that have eligible state-funded pupils
What you can spend it on?
Now, this is the important bit: You can spend this funding on capital projects to meet your own priorities. This may include improvements to buildings, equipment and other facilities. That is why, at Schoolscapes, we are busy designing inspirational projects for schools across the country.
With each eligible school receiving a £3000.00 lump sum this February as well as an additional variable amount of approx. £30 per pupil, many schools have over £10,000 to spend.
Whether you need a new water tray or would love some all-weather surfacing and a functional bike track and a climbing tower or would love to celebrate reading with a fun outdoor storytelling area, we are there to discuss your school’s unique needs and will help you get the most out of your money.
Our quality, functional, well-designed products will not only inspire the children with you today but will leave a legacy for pupils to benefit from for years to come; we are renowned for our guarantees of up to 20 years and an unmatched, high standard of workmanship, alongside top-quality materials.
Some schools are even planning a phased project approach as, although the money is expected to be used on improvements in 2019, there is flexibility for schools to spend the funding over the following 2 financial years if necessary.
At Schoolscapes we’d like to help you invest your extra funding by designing and providing a quality outdoor play, that matches your learners’ needs. We are pleased to have already supported many schools in putting their allocation to good use, installing some much-desired items that they might not previously have been able to prioritise.
Our Water Wall and Little Niagara Water Chutes have proven to be popular choices, as they develop STEM (STEAM) learning and provide unlimited opportunities for open-ended investigations and discovery through play. Another popular playground addition is the robust Construction Station, enabling children to learn about pulleys and to freely explore the properties of different materials.
Or how about bringing a new physical challenge to your play space with an exciting Climbing Tower, Trim Trail or maybe try out our versatile, portable Little Movers Range. As well as being proven to naturally increase children’s activity levels, these climbing and active experiences also offer opportunities for developing imaginative and social play outdoors.
3. Healthy Pupils Capital Fund (HPCF) 2018-2019
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What is the HPCF funding?
The HPCF for 2018-2019 has been created from £100m of revenue generated from the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, also known as ‘The UK Sugar Tax’. The government has stated that:
“This fund is intended to improve children’s and young people’s physical and mental health by improving and increasing availability to facilities for physical activity, healthy eating, mental health and wellbeing and medical conditions.”
This again can be used by nurseries and schools to help to fund vital and much-needed improvements in the outdoors environment, so young people can benefit from improved mental health, well being and physical fitness outside in the fresh air.
How is the HPCF funding allocated?
The HPCF is being allocated using the existing mechanisms for school’s condition funding:
- Single and small academy trusts and sixth-form colleges have had the opportunity to bid for HPCF through the Condition Improvement Fund
- Local authorities, large multi-academy trusts and other bodies receiving SCA will receive a direct allocation from the HPCF. This direct allocation is in addition to their normal School Condition Allocation
- VA schools will be allocated funding on a local authority basis through the existing LCVAP mechanism
- Funding allocations for grant recipients are driven by the characteristics of their pupils and schools
- Grant recipients can pool funding or take advantage of match-funding opportunities where appropriate but are responsible for providing assurances on how their allocation has been spent.
What can you spend it on?
We are pleased that the government is recognising that good quality outdoor learning opportunities add value to a school for years to come. Here are some of the examples it gives of projects which could be funded using your HPCF.
Refurbishment or building of:
- Sports halls and gyms
- Dining spaces, to include seating and tables
- Spaces for mental health support
Creation or renovation of:
- Garden spaces for growing produce
- Playgrounds and active play spaces, such as resurfacing, climbing walls or multiuse sports panels
- Sports pitches, hard courts and athletics tracks
- Improvements to facilities, such as floodlighting, security fencing, pitch drainage
Modification of facilities to improve accessibility for pupils with disabilities, such as:
- Wheelchair-accessible paths and planters in garden spaces
Provision of equipment, such as:
- Permanent goalposts
- Gym equipment
- Bike stands
Examples of smaller scale expenditure:
- Playground markings to facilitate active play
- Gardening planters and equipment
- Fixed sports equipment, such as wall-mounted basketball boards
We have helped many schools with the development of their ‘green spaces’, enabling little green fingers to plant, care for and finally harvest the rewards. What could be more rewarding and hands-on than creating a beautiful, natural green space, however small your outdoor area? Children love planting, so its no wonder that our Planter Stax and innovative Wormery create a buzz… and we’re not just talking about the bees!
Our vibrant Gametop Picnic Tables create a multi-purpose picnic area where pupils can dine, work, play and learn outside. There is such a wide range, there’s bound to be a great choice that would compliment your outdoor learning space.
Our Playground Markings can transform a tired yard into a bright, colourful, inspiring play space. Our Keep Fit markings such as Mirror Me support children in independent, active play at break times, as well as providing great warm-up exercises in PE lessons.
Children love our Wooden Outdoor Gym Equipment and challenge themselves and each other to beat their personal targets. Schools love the quality of our MUGA (Multi-Use Games Areas) and Sports Pitches and reap the rewards of being able to offer all-year-round sports facilities to their pupils.
What Will You Spend Your Funding On?
Despite the funding being admittedly a ‘drop in the ocean’, it is still money that is currently there and readily available for educational establishments. There’s really no need at this minute to say ‘We’ve got no money to spend on our outdoor space’ as, despite the current political climate, the government has pledged this extra funding through these schemes to try and make a difference to children’s learning throughout the country.
If I was you, I’d follow the lead of many schools that have recently contacted us and grab the opportunity whilst you can to go and spend that funding on making your outdoor space the best it can be! The only hard decision is what will you choose to spend it on?
If you feel inspired to spend any of these funding options to help create a new play space or to improve an existing outdoor learning area, please do not hesitate to contact us. We have been inspiring learning through play for over 20 years and our dedicated team of designers alongside our talented, in-house team of craftspeople will be able to support you on your playground journey and make your dreams for your outdoor play space a reality for you and your children.