Nowadays funding is tight, needs are growing and there is 0 innovation in the air. However, there is help out there and what better time to lead on your own innovation. Below are 10 ways to focus the mind and achieve success.
Below are 10 ways you might know:
Be specific in any request
When asking for something, always answer the three fundamental questions of “what”, “why” and “how”. Each should be captured in one sentence, 20 words at most. This way you communicate with clarity.
Set out a clear expectation of response including timescale. And ask for help – if they can’t help directly, who would they recommend you turn to?
Offer to be a Case Study
If you know what you want to happen in your school and you can express it with the clarity above. Then offer to be a test bed for organisations that do this sort of work. Typically, case studies projects will get significant reductions or even attract free funding.
The secret to being successful is getting in early. Keep abreast of research, twitter and blog posts are often good sources of breaking ideas.
You need to be proactive, pushy and fast. Network in all the usual and unusual spaces
Volunteer for Trials
EEF and other bodies (Universities, other research institutes) are always recruiting schools for trials. Whilst what they want to test might not be what you want to do now, stay on their lists, this will enable you to keep up to date with latest developments.
Compile a list of all those operating locally, nationally and even internationally.
Scale is becoming critical in school change. When networks of schools operate together they can magnify their effects through collective efficacy and can operate more at a system and strategic level. This excites potential funders and produces significant data.
Nowadays, it is relatively easy to find fellow collaborators through LinkedIn and other social communities. Virtual meetings and online forums and communities have replaced the old face to face networks.
Working in local groups is always problematical. At certain times of the year (new pupil recruitment), you naturally go into competition with your neighbours. Also familiarity can lead to unhelpful patterns and assumptions.
By growing your networks wider, you can find new connectivity and networks beyond networks. Momentum can be fresh and past failures forgotten.
Focus on implementation
When preparing bids think about implementation, this is becoming the focus of innovative funding in education. Professor John Hattie, recently said the age of evidence is over, welcome to the age of implementation. What he meant by this is that most of the research for new projects has been done. Bob Marzano in the US, Hattie out of Melbourne, the EEF (increasingly acting globally) have brought together the evidence of ‘what works’ and the picture isn’t changing much.
The focus is rapidly moving to implementation and implementation at scale. Do your research; learn how to present your information and plans as models. Mine and Clarify any assumptions. Carry out Risk mitigation. Make your proposals look tangible and achievable. And then ask for help and feedback.
To offer such projects requires clear ‘Theories of Change’ and learning design. See links below. By jumping to this stage you will be in front of the curve.
5 ways you might not yet have visited
Lobby your MP to lobby the department
It only takes three letters to raise a parliamentary question. And the good news is that despite what the press may infer, we live in a democracy. If you ask for money for a specific process, one with reasonable evidence of high probability of strong outcome, you dramatically increase your chances.
It is essential you are specific, concentrate on something that will improve the life chances of young people in the area.
Look to International funds
There is massive funding in the US for education change projects. Carol Dweck recently got a £4m grant for growth mindsets models. The Gates foundation has pumped in billions and all these funds need to prove scalability beyond their shores. Find them and make approaches.
Few education systems in the world are as flexible and offer more autonomy than in the UK. The high stakes accountability and growth of things such as the EEF mean we have access to data like few others. Use this to your advantage.
Corporate Social Responsibility
All medium to large size companies have a duty to corporate social responsibility. Under this duty they directly help the community through projects – education is one key area.
For many organisations, this is already well set up. For some, they are more reactive to proposals they receive or are reviewing current activity.
What they want is sound projects, clear and visible impact, succinct reporting robust proposals.
If you are working with larger groups of schools, then target larger employers in your area. For single schools go for the medium size businesses.
To be practical build a database. Find out who is in charge, when they review, how you submit and proposal and start the process.
Remember these are businesses; therefore some may have wider objectives. Tune into these and prepare your plans to reflect their objectives. If they want community help for homeless, you will need to join the dots. Some are less prescriptive but all will like submissions to be concise and focused. Begin with one well written page or a four slide PowerPoint; photos and diagrams are always helpful.
74% success rate for schools!
That statistic is quite amazing. Brexit may be on the horizon, but for the moment we are still paying our membership. Until we officially leave the EU, the European social funding can be accessed by UK schools.
Erasmus provide one off grants to fund research and development of up to £20k and for joint bids with partner schools from other countries this goes up to £250k.
The reason that percentage of success is so high is that few schools from the UK make use of the process. Grab it now while it is still around.
For more experienced bidders with scalable ideas crowdfunding offers a unique way to commercialise an opportunity. It is not easy, but you may find volunteer expertise in your local community.
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