Funding for D&T

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Some words of warning on sourcing additional funding ..… 

With financial challenges in many schools this page has ideas for getting additional funding for your department. There are, however, a few things to take into account before thinking about additional funding:

  • For some of the ideas make sure you check with your school first before you go ahead as there may be restrictions or procedures that might be required.
  • Be careful about running a department on a shoestring and always using recycled or waste materials. This can lead to the perception that D&T doesn’t need any funding as we can get by using other people’s rubbish. This can also lead to a limited understanding of what D&T is, which in turn reduces the incentive for school leaders to value and invest in D&T. 
  • Also be careful that your department is seen as not needing funding from the school budget because you can raise sufficient money yourself. Make sure you have a strong argument about this before approaching your Headteacher and finance department and keep an eye on things to make sure your department budget isn’t impacted in little ways that chip away at your allocation. 
  • To avoid raising your own funds having a negative impact on your department,  promote fundraising as your department being proactive. It may also be a good idea to think carefully about the type of things you will use additional funding for e.g. wish list items, something that benefits the whole school. 
  • It’s a good idea to link fundraising to curriculum content as this gives it more credibility. This could be fundraising for certain bits of equipment linked to learning or, for example  could be linked to things like Crowdfunding which is listed as a learning topic in the GCSE specifications. 

Quick wins

  • Find out what STEM funding comes into school (science & maths is written into the GCSE which gives D&T a strong argument for getting a share!)
  • Review who pays for equipment maintenance - There’s a strong argument for this to come out of the whole school budget, particularly if you can link this to the health and safety obligations of the school. Find out what happens within other departments as there may be a precedent set that you can use to strengthen your argument. Our bursary funded courses at the STEM Centre for technicians to learn how to do basic maintenance and servicing of sewing machines may also help reduce maintenance costs in the long term (check the courses page for the next course - the bursary means the CPD is free to state funded schools and academies). 
  • Support from your library - School libraries are often keen to support departments so build up resources over time. Forward thinking libraries may be willing to think outside the box with the types of resources they collect e.g. creating handling collections. Use organisations such as the Design Museum, Dyson and the Science Museum as inspiration who have handling boxes and collections, many of which can be borrowed, and which can be used by different departments in different ways.
  • Sharing resources across local schools - Create your own handling boxes and get together with local schools to share the ones you don’t have access to. 
  • Parents - Use the school newsletter or a D&T newsletter to find out what jobs and hobbies parents do and how they might be able to support the department. This may lead to exciting opportunities but at the minimum this will help you build up a handling box of products. 
  • Free exam board courses - In particular look out for online courses 
  • Pupil Premium - Do you know how pupil premium is used in your school? Can you put forward an argument for some of this funding to be used for pupils in D&T?
  • Parent Teacher Association - Can you make items for summer fairs and keep a percentage of the profits? Can you put together a bid for how PTA funding might be used in your department?
  • Enrichment funding - If your school runs out of lesson time enrichment activities or days investigate how you might introduce elements of D&T e.g. G&T clubs, after school clubs, summer school events, drop down timetable days, enterprise & activity days.
  • Get yourself noticed - Will your local council let you use an empty shop to showcase student work? Will they let you have a market stall for free once a year? How can you get your department in the local paper? On each occasion have information on show indicating how local parents and business might be able to support the department. 
  • University outreach programmes - universities are keen to get access to students from an early age and most have some sort of outreach programme. What they are prepared to offer in terms of support varies but might include visits to school, visits to the uni, workshop activities, and even funding. 
  • Build into performance review targets - Think about your performance review targets and how you might be able to subtly build in the need for certain types of equipment and resources in order to meet your targets!

Support from your local community 

  • STEM Ambassadors programme - Get visits and support from local STEM ambassadors in your area
  • Approach local community groups for real design contexts (some may even fund materials if they end up using items that have been designed and made)
  • Industry - Most companies, especially larger ones, have community support & social responsibility programmes. They are often keen to support the local area but don’t always know how. Even a company not related to design or manufacturing may be willing to offer some type of support and it’s a good idea to think outside the box about what a company might offer. Different companies will be prepared to offer different things e.g. funding, mentoring time, visits, waste materials, think about what might benefit them, along with what might be easy for them to sustain over a long period.  
  • Smaller local businesses might also be willing to support your department, especially if your school is happy to include a thank you and link to the business somewhere in a school newsletter or on the website (or even in the local paper). Smaller business may have more limited funds or ways of supporting a department but every little helps.

Grants, bursaries & competitions

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  • Look at the courses we run for the National STEM Learning Centre as they have bursaries which are available to state schools and academies and which pay for the course fees (and often the accommodation). 
  • Grants for Schools - website that lists grants and schemes available for schools to apply for. 
  • British Science Week grants - These are only available to certain types of schools but the activities can be anything as long as they are science related and take place during British Science Week, which is in March each year. For example, activities could be linked to materials, electronics, energy or lots of the other areas of the science related links in the D&T KS3, GCSE and A level curriculum. The activities can be as creative as you like and don’t have to be in a traditional science format. This is a great opportunity to join forces with science (although that’s not compulsory) and to raise the profile of science in D&T.
  • The Royal Society Partnership GrantsGrants of up to £3000 are available to schools to enable students, aged 5 – 18, to carry out STEM projects. This is ideal to apply for if your school or department is working in some way with someone in a STEM related industry as this is part of the application process. 
  • Competitions - Whilst competitions are more of a shot in the dark in terms of winning the big prizes it’s surprising how few entries some competitions get. As the famous lottery phrase goes, ‘you’ve got to be in it to win it!’. As well as any prize that might be won there’s a great deal of kudos that comes from doing well in a competition and this in itself can make entering worthwhile. Take a look at our annual D&T competition as well as other competitions that run nationally. 
  • The Business Language Champions run a range of cross curricular days, several of which are relevant to D&T (including Flair for International Fashion and International Space Challenge). The days focus on the importance of languages in the workplace and include keynote talks from experts in the field, as well as mentors who work with students on a range of activities. The events are organised by an organisation that promotes foreign languages so students do the activities using as much of their target language as possible (either French, German or Spanish) but the activities themselves are very strongly linked to D&T (researching, designing, developing social media campaigns for products etc). Although the events have to be paid for (and it's for smaller teams of students rather than a large cohort) this is a good example of how costs might be shared by several departments which might make an event more cost effective in terms of it’s impact. The day might also be particularly useful for G&T students. 


  • Find your local Scrapstorelogo - These are local centres where schools can get resources for free. The only downside is there may be limits on what you are allowed to take and what is available constantly changes (you will also have to arrange for collection). 
  • B&Q has a community re-use programme that donates unsellable products to schools
  • Community Recycle collaborates with a range of suppliers and manufacturers to prevent items going into landfill by donating free stock to schools. What’s available is always changing so visit the website for the most up to date information. 
  • North Wales schools can get free wood from Gate Expectations
  • Working with other departments e.g. science - Rather than having to invest in new resources it may be possible to share resources with other departments. The fact that science and maths in particular are an explicit part of the D&T GCSE gives a strong argument for more shared resources. 
  • Some online retailers will allow you to select up to 5 free material samples, particularly for textiles materials, but you might have to pay for the postage. Some high street retailers also do this especially those that sell furniture and furnishings. 
  • Pound Fabrics are an online company and all fabrics are £1 a metre. The range of fabric types sold is fairly limited and the minimum purchase for any fabric is 3 metres with postage added on top, but even taking this into account costs are low.  
  • Contrado sell a pack of textiles samples for under £5 which is worth investigating (the fabrics are good examples of everyday textiles fabrics rather than technical ones). Just note that when I have ordered packs in the past I wasn’t convinced all labels were accurate. The pack is however a good starting point if you are looking for low cost samples.
  • John Lewis - select 5 free samples of wallpaper (approx A4 size) from a range that includes iconic designers and products
  • World of Wool - low cost samples of a wide range of natural and synthetic fibres
  • Easy Composites - low cost samples of a range of composite materials

Fundraising activities

  • Don’t forget to check with your Headteacher and finance department about any rules and regulations on fundraising before you go ahead. Also check to make sure all of the proceeds from sales will go to your department!
  • Create your own pop up shop - Run an after school or holiday club where students design and manufacture products to sell. This could be run in conjunction with other subjects, such as, business studies or maths, especially as there is some great potential cross curriculum learning, as well as lots of learning relevant to the D&T curriculum. Set up stalls at open evenings, parents evenings and other school events to sell your products. You could even have a website where items can be purchased online. 
  • Initiatives Fundraising produces bags, mugs, tea towels and aprons onto which student (or teacher) designs can be printed. If you don’t have time to run clubs where students can design and make products this is a good alternative. 
  • The Easyfundraising website is a free online service that allows people to shop at their favourite online store via the links on the Easyfundraising website and at the same time a donation is made by the retailer to a good cause of the purchaser's choice. Your school or department sets up a page in their name and people then log onto the cause and buy products from over 3000 retailers that are registered. It doesn’t cost the purchaser any extra money to buy their item. The Giving Machine and GoRaise are similar websites. 
  • Crowdfunding websites such as Just Giving and Crowdfunder also enable a school or department to set up a webpage to collect donations, for example for a sponsored event. Rocket Fund is a crowd funding website designed specifically for schools to help them raise money for the latest technology by fundraising from businesses. 


  • Funding isn’t necessarily always about money and there are lots of other ways for companies etc. to offer support.
  • Whilst a big donation of funding would be great, every little helps even if a local company can only offer £50 as this might fund a project for one year group. 
  • Most companies have waste materials so it’s just a case of finding out what these are and thinking creatively about how you might use them (and how you might collect and store them). 
  • Think creatively about how materials might be used e.g. polypropylene rubble sacks or tarpaulins donated by your local building firm make great materials for bags.
  • Lots of small, quick projects may be more cost effective than one big one
  • If students aren’t taking projects home it may be worthwhile reflecting on if this is the best way of spending the funding you do have
  • Think about what you give back to those that sponsor you so they see how worthwhile their sponsorship is e.g. a high profile thank you in the local paper, links to a company website (your school will need to agree to this)

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