Generating more income with Pebble

It’s a common misconception that grant funding is an option available only to registered charities. That leaves many schools unaware that there is £1.5 billion available to them in grant funding. From small pots of money to fund a daily breakfast club through to large grants for development of new sporting facilities. Fundraising in general is a grey area for most schools and grant funding in particular, is something that goes greatly untapped.

Although schools can do a great job of raising funds through non-uniform days and bake sales, these funds usually go to another charity. The reality is that schools could use these opportunities to raise funds for themselves.

Then there’s the power of the PTA. Their fundraising potential is second to none. A well-managed, motivated PTA is a fundraising force to be reckoned with. However, a huge number of schools don’t make the most of this amazing resource.

So, what is stopping schools from utilising what’s on their doorstep and making some money? Time, mostly. Having the resources to hand to help you achieve your fundraising goals plays a big part too. Then there’s knowledge. Knowing what you can do to raise funds and how to do it is the first step, right?

During 2014, Pebble is changing the way that it supports schools to access additional funding. We’ll show you what you can achieve within any timeframe – be it 5 free minutes or 5 whole days. So, as well as keeping schools updated with all of the grants available to them and how to apply for these, we’ll also be providing robust advice, workshops, resources and support on other ways your school can generate income too.

Watch this space:

In 2014 and beyond, can your school really afford not to be making money?

Online Payments for Schools – Becoming a ‘Need’ rather than a ‘Want’.

We’re often asked ‘Why should our school have a system for taking online payments?’

Well, let’s begin with the most obvious benefit, that online transactions make payments for dinners, school trips, events, clubs and other items simpler for parents, and more robust and auditable for schools. Additionally, children don’t need to carry cash to and from school, or have it with them on the premises. It virtually eliminates the risk of them (or the school) losing money, and has had an effect on theft and bullying too. This has benefits for the parents, the children and the school.

An additional benefit for the school office is that administrative staff don’t need to count and record envelopes of cash and change. More schools are making the decision to go cashless as the continued rise of shopping and banking online has made electronic transactions far more commonplace and both the school and the parents are now far more comfortable with, and trusting of such systems.

Schools can be resistant for numerous reasons; fear of change, perceived difficulty, lack of need, misunderstanding of the benefits. All these objections are easily answered, but schools are increasingly busy environments and we understand that unless given an opportunity to talk through these issues, it’s difficult for them to see the huge benefits of implementing a new system and new processes. Furthermore, some schools are denied the opportunity to take advantage of an online payments system at the Local Authority level.

Other schools think that parents might not want to use it, or might not be able to use it without Internet access at home or on the move from a smartphone/tablet. This isn’t the case. A huge percentage of parents prefer the idea of being able to pay with a credit or debit card, but if they don’t have one, or choose not to, they can still pay with the more familiar cash or cheque at the school, and have those payments entered by the school onto the system.

Good online payments systems will have email and SMS messaging functions, which allow regular communication with parents in order to build engagement and uptake over time.

It is vital that the school uses both encouragement and incentive tactics to get parents engaged in online payments. They need to make lots of things available to purchase online from day one, but also work to make the ‘old’ ways less appealing by – for example – only accepting cash payments for a short time on a particular day. Schools often provide a computer or device in reception so that those without their own equipment can still use the system, view balances and transactions etc.

Schools must not underestimate the savings of online payments, even if taken up by a modest percentage of parents at first. Online payments should be viewed as having immediate quick-wins, but it’s important to realise that it is an endeavour that requires ownership and nurturing in the medium/long term.

When you consider the time currently devoted to collecting, counting, handling, banking, reconciliation and ‘chasing’ for payment out of the equation, it’s clear to see where the benefits are. Online payments are a huge time-saver, allowing administrative staff to then allocate their valuable time to other projects, but at the same time allows better reporting of payments than traditional systems. It’s win-win.

Online payment systems have increased over the years in their complexity from initially logging only meal payments to now being full parent communication systems through which documents can be shared, messages sent, and an almost limitless range of items made available for purchase. This trend is consistent with a growing recognition in schools that generating and managing their own income is certain to become increasingly important.

The main considerations for a school going cashless are to make sure the change is communicated clearly and in good time to parents, and that the online payments provider makes the system ‘foolproof’ from a parental point of view. Then, to ensure there is an initial, and continuous stream of reasons to use the system, making more and more offers to parents online.

The key considerations from an internal perspective are to make sure that your staff all get great training, take things a step at a time, and be certain that your online payments solution has a seamless interface with whatever systems you choose to track and manage your voluntary income. Online payments are not a ‘leap of faith’ for schools, they are proven, efficient and increasingly prevalent.

Schools with online payments are no longer early adopters, it is those without that are lagging behind.

Funding to boost kids’ confidence and skills for life

As discussions of mental health checks for children hit the news, we decided to ask the question, what can be done to make a young person happier and more confident?

Happiness is the key to a young person growing up to be a successful, well-rounded adult. No matter what age you are – how you feel about yourself affects how you act. This also includes your ability to perform well at tasks.

Most children will have issues with self-esteem during their lifetime. Situations such as starting a new school, moving house and difficulties at home could knock anyone’s confidence – but for a child these things could seem especially detrimental.

Studies show that children who have low self-worth very often do not perform well in school and are more likely to behave badly, as a way of acting out. This is why it is so important that there is a strong support network put in place by parents and schools.

Here are a few grants for schools that we have found to be helpful in boosting a child’s confidence:

Learn with Dogs

A helpful paw from man’s best friend, Primary schools can book a workshop with a Dogs Trust Education Officer. Workshops use the theme of dog ownership as a means to help pupils develop self-esteem, confidence, responsibility, communication and teamwork skills. Pupils also get the chance to meet a friendly dog!

UnLtd: Do It Awards

UnLtd supports individuals who have their ventures firmly rooted in delivering positive social change. They help individuals to create more positive social impact by giving them a special package of support.

The Joyce Fletcher Charitable trust

This trust offers grants for music and arts activities delivered in a social and therapeutic context, particularly for the benefit of children, the disabled and disadvantaged. Preference is given to organisations in South West England, although applications from across the UK will be considered.

Want to start your own project or after school club that focuses on self-esteem or confidence building? Get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do to help get you started.

Call the team 0845 310 1788

The Big Draw

If you want your children to get into some extracurricular activities but are worried about the distinct lack of pennies in your purse, then what can be better than drawing? No pricey guitars to buy or nasty nipping Shetland ponies to contend with. All you need is a pencil and pad to get them started, how easy is that?

The Campaign for Drawing has a goal to get everybody drawing. They believe that drawing can help us make sense of the world around us through artistic expression. It’s enjoyable, calming and can be wonderfully inexpensive.

We’re excited that the annual October Big Draw festival is finally here. Thousands of organisations across the country are running events in museums, galleries and plenty of other places that everyone can take part in. To find out if there are any near you click here.

The Big Draw even has its own Drawing Inspiration Awards – simply enter details of your Big Draw event for the chance to win a cash prize of between £750 and £1,000. The deadline for entries is 6th December 2013.

The good news is that drawing isn’t just for October and it isn’t just for kids to enjoy. School Fund Finder can help you to find grants to buy art materials, computing equipment, clothing and textiles for art based projects. Here are just a handful of grants and schemes that are available:

Ernest Cook Trust: Educational Grants

The Ernest Cook Trust gives grants of up to £4,000 to projects that educate young people about the environment, countryside and the arts. A wide range of projects are considered.

Community RePaint

This organisation collects re-usable leftover paint and gives it away to worthy projects.

Want to find out more or have us help you write the perfect application? Visit us here:

Call the team 0845 310 1788

Funding for School Breakfast Clubs

Schools and parents were collectively shocked last month when figures were released that one in seven children go to school hungry. That’s a staggering 820,000 children with rumbling tummies every week across Britain, seriously affecting their ability to concentrate in the classroom.

This is mostly due to rising bills that are putting a strain on family’s disposable income – and forcing them into food poverty. Reports found that a large number of parents rely on school meals to help feed their children.

School Fund Finder has taken a great interest in this and we have been working hard to find the best grants for you.  We want to help you make your pupils’ lives better and ease parents’ worries.

Kellogg’s Give a Child a Breakfast

Back for another year, Kellogg’s have teamed up with a UK charity called Forever Manchester to deliver the Help Give a Child a Breakfast campaign.  Grants of up to £400 are available to help you set up a new breakfast club or keep your existing club going.

Visit the link below to see if your school is eligible to apply for funding:

Greggs Breakfast Clubs

Good old Greggs have also got their own Breakfast Club Programme for primary schools. They help to provide a healthy start to the day for thousands of children. Visit this link for details:

Magic Breakfast

Magic Breakfast provide free and nutritious breakfast foods to primary schools in the greatest need. Some of their tasty treats include bagels, porridge, cereals and orange juice.

FareShare Food Access Programme

The FareShare Food Access Programme redistributes in-date, quality food to charities and projects across the country. The good news is it also supports breakfast clubs and after-school clubs. If you’re interested please contact your Regional Depot to register your interest in the programme.

It’s International Walk to School Month! Funding available!

It’s a fact that a staggering 43% of children are now driven to school. The Living Streets Walk to School campaign has been encouraging walking to school since 1995. It reaches over 1.9 million children every year.

Here are some reasons why parents should think of swapping their car for a pair of trainers;

It’s kinder to your bank balance – Ditching the car and walking to school instead, on average, will save you £400 per year.

It keeps the waist line trim – The journey to and from school is an ideal time for children to be active, as they need at least one hour of physical activity every day. Children who generally travel to and from school by bus or car are more likely to be overweight at age five than those who walk or cycle.

Children learn as they walk – Walking to school can help children build road safety skills such as how to use pedestrian crossings – and if they meet up with friends on the way, it can also assist in their social development. Plus it can boost their independence, which will make a difference to their confidence when they are journeying to secondary school later in life.

It helps save the environment – One individual switching from 5 car journeys of fewer than 2 km a week to walking would decrease their carbon footprint by 86kg a year.

Want to get involved? Find your free resources here;

Interested in healthy living grants?

School Fund Finder can help you find grants to develop a healthy living or sports project in school.

Big Lottery Fund’s Awards for All is a great place to start – you can apply for a grant of up to £10,000 for projects that develop healthier and more active people and communities.  Take a look at their work here:

We can help you write the perfect application!  Find out more here:

Who doesn’t love a school competition? Here’s a list of our top five.

Last week we gave you our top 10 freebies up for grabs, now it’s time for the competitions. You or your students can enter all of these right now on behalf of your school, and be in for the chance to win some cash or prizes.

Tycoons in Schools
Now in its second year, Tycoon in Schools is an enterprise competition, where shortlisted schools are given a £1,000 start-up loan and pupils are challenged to start a business and make a profit. Tycoons in Schools 2013 will kick off in September when pupils will pitch their business ideas to their tutors, following a series of business planning sessions which will be provided in advance by the Peter Jones Foundation. Registration closes at 5pm on 9th September 2013.

RGS: Young Geographer of the Year 2013
Organised by the Royal Geographical Society and Geographical magazine, this is a competition for young geographers aged between 9 and 18 years in the UK and Europe – with great prizes for them and their school. Apply by the 11th of October 2013.

The Big Draw: Drawing Inspiration Awards
The Big Draw, which aims to promote drawing, takes place between 1st October and 31st October 2013. Schools, community groups, museums and other not-for-profit organisations in the UK are eligible to take part. Enter your event for the chance to win a cash award!

Timstar Innovation Search
Do you have an idea for a new science teaching aid that will inspire young people to work scientifically? Teachers and technicians are invited to enter this competition from education suppliers Timstar for the chance to see their idea turned into a new product for the classroom. Apply by the 13th of September 2013.

Rosetta Stone: #languages4schools
Rosetta Stone has launched a new competition for UK secondary schools in inner city areas of London, Leeds, Glasgow, Birmingham and Manchester. Schools that enter have the chance to win 30 Rosetta Stone language-learning software licenses. Apply by the 18th of September 2013.

Want to know more? School Fund Finder is a subscription-based service specifically designed to help schools find, apply for and secure additional funding.  So whether you’re looking to launch an extra-curricular project, buy new equipment for your sports hall, or spruce up your school’s grounds, we can help.  We can even write a bid for you on your behalf.  To contact the School Fund Finder team, please call 0845 310 1788 or email

10 freebies for schools that you can get right now

At School Fund Finder, we’re constantly on the lookout for grants, competitions and free stuff for schools. Here are our top ten freebies that you can apply for right now on behalf of your school.

Free eBooks from Oxford Owl.  Oxford Owl is a free website dedicated to helping parents and primary school teachers inspire children’s reading. It has over 250 free eBooks and other useful resources for home and classroom use. There is also a special selection of books designed to encourage more boys to take up reading.

Free guitar lessons from Rex Pearson.  Rex Pearson has worked in schools for a number of years developing guitar courses and teaching all age groups. He has created online guitar courses and lessons for anyone to use, in the classroom or at home. They are available online and they are completely free to use. Lessons include music theory and playing techniques.

Free school trips to English Heritage sites. English Heritage offers free admission to all of its historic sites for school and educational groups, from prehistoric sites and Roman towns, medieval castles and abbeys, to industrial mills and Victorian houses. It’s perfect for inspiring history teaching and outdoor learning in a unique setting.

Free donated items from Giving World Online. The charity Giving World Online provides a link between organisations that have unwanted or surplus goods and local groups, including schools, in need of support. Previously donated items include arts materials, educational materials, school bags, clothes and textiles, computing equipment, office furniture, stationery and toys. Simply sign up online.

Free unwanted or surplus stock from B&Q. Every B&Q store operates a waste donation scheme whereby waste materials, such as slightly damaged tins of paint, off-cuts of timber, odd rolls of wallpaper and end of range materials, are donated to community groups, charities and schools. Just fill in a Waste Donation form at your local B&Q store.

Free paint from Community RePaint. Community Repaint redistributes surplus tins of paint to charities and community projects across the country so that they don’t go to waste. Many schools have used the paint for classroom improvements or school murals – it’s a perfect way to spruce up a classroom. Use the postcode checker on the Community RePaint website to find your nearest scheme.

Free mobile web app programming tool from Weejot. Weejot is offering all schools, colleges and universities in the UK free student access to its mobile web app publishing tool. It’s perfect for budding programmers to improve their programming skills using HTML5 and JavaScript.

Free workshops from the Dogs Trust. Primary school teachers can book a workshop with a Dogs Trust Education Officer and a friendly dog! Workshops use the theme of dog ownership as a means to help pupils develop self-esteem, confidence, responsibility, communication and teamwork skills, and make curriculum links.

Free potatoes for primary schools. Grow Your Own Potatoes is a primary school based growing project which challenges pupils to grow potatoes at school.  It is designed to be a fun way to educate children about the potato’s role in a healthy diet and how things grow. Register now for your free potato growing kit.

Free newspapers for schools. The Newspaper Licensing Agency gives schools in the UK free access to an online newspaper cuttings library and a free paper copying licence. It’s a fabulous resource for the classroom. Simply register online.

Want to know more? School Fund Finder is a subscription-based service specifically designed to help schools find, apply for and secure additional funding.  So whether you’re looking to launch an extra-curricular project, buy new equipment for your sports hall, or spruce up your school’s grounds, we can help!  To contact the School Fund Finder team, please call 0845 310 1788 or email

Kick-start your fundraising success…a case study

About the School

The Clare School is a Specialist ‘Physical/Sensory’ Complex Needs School. It is a mixed, day Community School for pupils from 3 to 19 years of age. Many pupils have complex medical and learning needs.

About Raymond

Raymond Hart worked at the Clare School for 20 years as the Art and Tech Coordinator. During that time he also became Ed Visits Coordinator, Health and Safety Officer and headed up the Premises Team. Upon retirement as a teacher on 31st December 2011 (age 60), Raymond reduced his working week to 4 days as Premises Manager, continued his other non-teaching roles and took on the task of leading the school’s hydrotherapy pool fundraising project.

Up to this point, Raymond had no experience in school fundraising. He didn’t know where to look to find funding opportunities or how to write grant applications. A lot of people came to Raymond with great ideas, but putting those ideas into action was proving to be a real challenge. Once he started, he also found it difficult to coordinate the ideas and efforts of the Head, the Governors, the Senior Management Team, the Staff, the Parents and the School’s Charity, Care for Clare – who all have important parts to play in fundraising for the school. Overall, Raymond found that the school was not sufficiently organised to embark on serious fundraising straight away and therefore he had to start to do some essential groundwork.

Why School Fund Finder?

Raymond found School Fund Finder using a Google Search and he was instantly impressed by the fundraising support service offered.  In particular, it was the company’s ‘go for it’ attitude on the phone that makes it stand out, which Raymond says captures Pebble’s commitment to helping schools achieve great fundraising results.

Raymond decided to sign up to School Fund Finder because he knew he would benefit from the service in a number of ways. It includes access to a comprehensive Grants Search which brings together all the funding opportunities currently available to UK schools and it is searchable to meet Raymond’s requirements.  With no previous experience in school fundraising, he also liked the support and guidance that Pebble gives, from recommending grants to helping with grant application writing.  Many people who take up the task of fundraising have never done so before. Pebble recognises this and breaks down the fundraising process into easy-to-follow steps for you, taking you through writing your fundraising vision and strategy, appointing your fundraising team, managing your volunteers, finding funding, and writing grant applications.  Our Senior Fundraising Consultant, Rachel, who draws on her great knowledge of fundraising in the education sector, guides every customer through the process.

Raymond has now got to grips with the school’s hydrotherapy pool fundraising project, putting into action his fundraising strategy, involving his volunteers in meaningful jobs, and contacting funders for funding support.  Raymond knows that Pebble is there at every step of the way until he reaches his fundraising goal.

School Financial Value Standards – A spotlight on software

What is School Financial Value Standards (SFVS)?

Schools manage many billions of pounds of public money each year. Effective financial management is vital to ensure the safeguarding of public funds and enable schools to optimise their resources to provide high-quality teaching and learning.

In September 2011 the Department of Education replaced the Financial Management Standard in Schools (FMSiS) with the SFVS. The aim of the standard is to improve the assistance and advice given to schools regarding best practice for financial management.

SFVS is made up of 23 questions, each of which requiring an answer of Yes, In Part, or No.

All maintained schools are required to complete the SFVS once a year, but unlike FMSiS, SFVS will not be externally assessed.

How does SFVS affect the accounting of School Fund?

SFVS highlights the importance of schools utilising the financial management solutions available to them for centralising and optimising the management of their funds. In particularly, Section D of the standard – which this article will focus on  – emphasises the advantages software solutions can have on improving accountability and protecting public money.

More specifically, question 21 requires that schools:

  • “Have an accounting system that is adequate and properly run and delivers accurate reports, including the annual Consistent Financial Reporting return”

School Financial Value Standard (April, 2012)

What is an ‘adequate’ accounting system?

By definition, the Department for Education characterises an adequate accountancy system as one that provides accurate records of income and expenditure. This means that the accounting system should record detailed information on income and expenditure, covering all of the school’s financial transactions. To meet the standard, an accounting system must also produce reliable and accurate management information, which includes providing decision makers with timely and accurate information relevant to their responsibilities and requirements.

Providing details of revenue income and expenditure along with capital income, expenditure and balances is vital for any adequate accountancy system, along with the ability to produce accurate and instant reports.

Why is this important?

A substantial percentage of schools in the UK still rely on Excel spreadsheets or ledgers to manage their funds. According to the standard, these antiquated methods are no longer considered adequate for the management of school funds, primarily due to their auditing and reporting limitations.  In comparison, accountancy systems enable schools to accurately monitor budgets, providing important information about spending patterns that help schools make realistic forecasts of year-end under or overspends. Producing the Continued Financial Reporting (CFR) return enables maintained schools to benchmark their spending against similar schools and consider in which areas they could achieve better value for money.

How is voluntary fund accounting specifically affected?

A school voluntary fund comprises any funding received by schools from non–public sources which exists for the purpose of a school and are established under the authority of the school governors. They are frequently referred to as ‘private’ funds.

Question 22 of the standard aims to address how voluntary funds should be accounted for:

  • “Does the school have adequate arrangements for audit of voluntary funds?”

School Financial Value Standard (April, 2012)

What does this mean and why is it important?

With an aim of ensuring schools maintain the highest possible level of auditability, the Department for Education has emphasised the importance of schools accounting for their voluntary funds separately to their delegated funds. By auditing these two funds separately, schools and local authorities can avoid and safeguard against any misuse of public funds. In order to comply with these standards, schools should use a financial package that can produce end of year reports, which in turn should be independently audited by a qualified accountant.

How can your school comply with Section D of SFVS?

There are various accountancy packages that are dedicated to helping schools not only comply with the criteria set by the Department for Education, but also save time and money while accounting for school funds. See one of these solutions for yourself today by calling 0845 310 1788.

  • Contact Details

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