A "Little Extra" can go a long way... Here's some exciting ways to invest your Additional Capital Funding
The chancellor’s announcement in his autumn budget explaining that schools would be receiving an in-year bonus “to help our schools buy the little extras they need”, has, perhaps not surprisingly, proved controversial.
The £400 million additional capital funding for the academic year 2018-2019 (ACF), which the chancellor said would amount to an average of £10k per primary school, extending to £15k - £20k for larger primary schools, has been described by some headteachers as “a drop in the ocean” compared to what schools actually need, and don’t necessarily get, in terms of much-needed funding.
Teachers took to Twitter using the hashtag #littleextras, with suggestions that perhaps schools could spend the money on special treats such as glitter glue, chocolate biscuits, limousines and Evian water fountains.
Joking aside, the situation has proved beyond frustrating for schools who find that they are constantly battling funding issues and spending more time than they reasonably should be trying to find alternative funding options, just to be able to successfully teach the basic curriculum, never mind all of the extra-curricular activities that modern society wants them to offer.
In his announcement, Hammond made clear that the Additional Capital Funding can only be used for capital expenditure, namely maintenance and equipment.
So whilst the thought of sparkly glue and a year’s supply of digestives is probably much more appealing than anticipating what sort of “rewards” schools might be in for next at this stage, some schools have managed to put their allocation to good use, funding some much desired items that they might not previously have been able to prioritise.
So how can schools use their Additional Capital Funding to really benefit their pupils?
In recent weeks, we have been contacted by several primary schools who have already received their new pot of funding, wanting to use it to improve and make the most of their outdoor learning spaces and playgrounds. This is a brilliant use of the budget.
A new or improved outdoor playground environment can offer limitless opportunities for learning, for children’s growth and development both physically and mentally and for promoting good health and wellbeing. The key to spending the allocation wisely here is two-fold: inclusivity and longevity.
Investing in good resources for a school playground adds long term value.
Whether your school needs new climbing equipment, all-weather surfacing, so that the space can be used year-round, improved sporting facilities, or interactive, imaginative and creative learning pieces to achieve specific learning goals, these are all good sustainable, solid investments that can last for many years to come.
Importantly, a well-designed school playground or outdoor learning space is something that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of age and ability.
So while the additional allocation may well be controversial, it has created opportunities for underfunded schools to invest in some key outdoor learning resources, enabling them to offer facilities they may not have been able to anticipate before.
Why use the Additional Capital Funding to focus specifically on outdoor learning?
Good outdoor facilities can make such a difference to a school’s teaching capabilities. The importance of outdoor play and outdoor learning is well documented.
With features and stimulus that can hardly be replicated inside, the outdoors offers an open and constantly changing environment.
Children are free to be physically active and to make all the gross, often boisterous, movements that they naturally need to do. This is particularly important considering the growing concern over childhood obesity in the UK.
Playing and exploring in an outdoor environment offers emotional benefits, too, by helping children to build self-confidence and resilience. They soak up the goodness of fresh air and natural sunlight; all of which contributes to good physical development, a stronger immune system and better mental health and wellbeing.
The provision of active outdoor play in an engaging and stimulating environment is also known to improve behaviour in schools and to help reduce symptoms for children with behavioral difficulties. Studies have shown that playing in green outdoor environments promotes higher levels of attention and well-being and subsequently better performance.
Much has been learned in recent years about the different ways in which we, as humans, prefer to learn and can learn best to improve performance.
Children are curious creatures and will usually take the opportunity to explore the world around them hands-on. Learning kinesthetically, from experience, is arguably the most powerful way for children to learn.
When it comes to maximising potential and opportunities for kinesthetic learning, a good outdoor learning environment offers just that.
Is an improved outdoor facility really affordable within the budget?
It might come as a surprise for some schools to discover that making significant improvements to their outdoor play and learning environment or sports facilities is affordable within their ACF allocation.
Considering this, we have put together a selection of “£10K Packages” to give schools a clearer idea of how far the money can go. Each package features some of our most popular products from our range designed specifically for primary schools.
Take a closer look at our £10k packages here:
If you are considering using your Additional Capital Funding to create a new outdoor play and learning space, please do not hesitate to Contact Us to see how we can help you. At Pentagon Play, we have been inspiring learning through play for over 20 years.
We are specialists in making school playground equipment that is stimulating and challenging for children, specifically designed to develop key skills whilst making learning experiences fun. You can view our amazing range of Outdoor Play Products here.