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Is your school sports budget being reduced as part of wider school funding restrictions?

81% of schools have been hit hard by cuts, with 14% reporting the need for teacher redundancies; almost four years after the ring-fenced funding for the national School Sport Partnerships (SSPs) ended alongside the necessary two hours of PE in schools each week, we’re really beginning to witness the disastrous aftermath on PE departments up and down the country.

With the prospect of a further five years of limited funding ahead, schools must find new opportunities if they’re to maintain diversity in sport and push their pupils to their potential, so here are a few ways in which more can be made of your school sports budget.

Supermarket voucher collection schemes

Some supermarkets run annual promotions of vouchers given to shoppers at the end of their weekly shop – such as the Sainsbury’s Active Kids scheme (don’t forget that all orders must be placed by 28th July for the 2017 scheme), which provides for new cooking and sports equipment.

These schemes provide free equipment, direct to your door, and parents are generally keen to get involved to help. Get in touch with parents and let them know that they can support their children by collecting these vouchers when they go shopping.

Try to make it as easy to contribute as possible: list the local supermarkets that are part of a voucher collection scheme, place voucher donation boxes where they are clearly visible to parents on the school run, and talk to the managers of the closest stores to see if they will help you to collect vouchers that are not wanted by shoppers.

Get in touch with other local schools and share facilities

This may seem like an obvious solution to you but do you really know all of the available facilities at nearby schools? Get in touch with other PE departments and suggest reciprocal tours of your sports facilities to discover what resources can be shared.

If the next school boasts brand new tennis courts but lacks the extensive grounds required for athletics (whilst your school has perfected its track and field facilities) it makes sense to share your sports spaces so that your pupils can enjoy a breadth and depth of sporting experiences.

Contact local sports grounds and clubs

Any coaching that you can arrange with external organisations or donations from business or sports clubs will help to reduce the pressure on your school sports budget.

Local sports grounds may be happy to provide a set amount of free time to you and your pupils in return for a little promotion such as a local newspaper story, a mention in your newsletter, or a feature on your website.

You could also ask local businesses whether they’d be interested in sponsoring your teams or certain sports at your school. Do any parents own a local business? Are their children enthusiastic about sports? If so, talk to them about sponsoring the purchase of some equipment or team kits for your school.

Many sports teams (whether amateur or professional) offer outreach programmes to local schools and the wider community. These can take the form of free coaching sessions, ground visits or free (often branded) resources or equipment.

Don’t forget that organisations like the Football Association are also often excellent sources of free support and resources for schools.

Host a fundraising event to help boost your sports budget

Sports fundraisers such as a sponsored event or fair can be a great way of boosting your PE coffers for some much needed equipment, and with websites that manage fund collection for you, such as Just Giving, the process couldn’t be simpler or more social media friendly.

Such an event must be handled with care however – asking for donations from parents who may be struggling themselves is always a sensitive issue, and it must be stressed that all donations are strictly voluntary.