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Last reviewed on 12 July 2018
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How can schools generate additional income? This article sets out ways to generate extra money using a school's existing resources, and links to further information on these approaches. You will also find case studies from 2 schools about successful income generation.

In this article, one of our associate education experts, Nazli Hussein, suggests some ways in which schools can generate additional income. Nazli is an experienced school business manager (SBM).

Maximise funding

Nazli said that schools should ensure they have a good marketing plan to attract pupils, as higher pupil numbers means the school will receive more funding.

She said it is worth ensuring that as many eligible pupils as possible apply for free school meals (FSM), in order to increase the amount of pupil premium funding your school receives.

... schools should ensure they have a good marketing plan to attract pupils ...

Further reading:

Be resourceful with staffing

To generate and save funds through staffing, Nazli suggested that schools:

  • Work with other schools to share services such as site, finance and human resources teams
  • Outsource staff with specialist skills to schools that need the support but cannot afford full-time staff
  • Employ a procurement consultant
  • Employ a timetabling consultant who will maximise the efficiency of staff and room timetables
  • Hire volunteers

Further reading:

Use the school site

Schools could let the school to generate additional income ...

Nazli suggested that schools could let the school to generate additional income, and recommended:

  • Thinking about including extra services such as car parking, IT equipment and catering
  • Creating a marketing document of the facilities that are available for hire, and sending this document to local organisations
  • Ensuring that school staff dealing with lettings respond quickly to enquiries

Nazli also suggested further tips for making the most of the school site:

  • Team up with a car boot sale organiser who will pay the school a percentage from each car's entry fee
  • Provide car parks as additional parking facilities for nearby events
  • Offer a varied timetable of evening and weekend adult education classes
  • Develop the reprographics and media departments into a professional operation and offer printing and design services to local businesses
  • Set up an on-site cafe to generate income from pupils, staff and visitors

Further reading:

Work with businesses

There are a number of ways that schools can work with businesses. 

Nazli told us that schools can approach businesses about sponsoring activities or facilities such as sports events and clothing, prize-giving events, open days or community events.

She also suggested that schools may be able to develop relationships with companies under their corporate social responsibility (CSR) schemes to access free services, such as mentoring or assistance with small capital building works. While this does not generate income, it could save schools money that would otherwise need to be spent.

A practitioner from ISBL (previously known as NASBM) told us that schools could work with retailers and restaurants to earn cashback on purchases of certain products or services. For instance, local restaurants may give the school a percentage of the profits from certain meal purchases.

Schools could work with retailers and restaurants to earn cashback ...

Further reading:

School-business partnerships: guidance and case studies

Apply for grants

There are a range of funding opportunities from grant-awarding bodies that schools might apply for. The value of grants available can vary, and while some will be unrestricted others may be aimed at funding a very specific project or purchase.

Further reading:

Work with parents

Schools can also work with parents to raise funds and make savings.

We attended a talk by Emma Williams, executive director of PTA UK, at the National Association of School Business Management (NASBM) London regional conference in February 2016. 

She said that, in many schools, parents contribute to fundraising through school fairs or other fundraising events, but suggested that parents can help in practical ways too. For example, they could be asked to volunteer to help with DIY projects on weekends, which could eliminate the need to employ contractors or more members of staff. 

Nazli noted that, in addition to fundraising events, another way to generate revenue is through selling items directly to pupils and parents, such as:

  • Yearly school photos
  • Personalised jumpers with pupil names on the back

NASBM is now known as the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL).

Further reading:

Case study: working with parents

Christ Church Cathedral School is an independent school in Oxfordshire for boys aged 3-13. 

It uses a free private social networking app for parents called Classlist.

The app's network of parents is overseen by the school's parent teacher association (PTA). We spoke to the former chair of the PTA, Maria Blick, about how the school uses the app to engage with parents and generate funding for the school.

By using the app, more tickets have been sold and more income generated ...

Selling tickets for school events

Maria said that the school uses the app to make selling tickets online easier and quicker.

She said that by using the app, more tickets have been sold and more income generated for the school through events. Using the app has also reduced the administrative burden of events for the school office staff.

Adverts for local businesses

Maria explained that she approached a number of local businesses, both those who work with the school and those run by parents.

Three local businesses set up an arrangement with Classlist where they paid upfront to advertise on the app. A proportion of this went to the school.

Through this set-up the school raised £1,600, which it spent on a new playground.

Marketplace for second-hand uniform

Maria saw that a number of parents were already communicating about lost property on the app’s social network platform.

She saw an opportunity for the school to establish a second-hand uniform marketplace to meet this need, which could also generate further income for the school.

Selling merchandise from the PTA

Maria also established a marketplace to sell leftover school merchandise items organised by the PTA, such as teatowels and calendars.

Case study: community cohesion

Cotgrave Candleby Lane Primary School in Nottinghamshire is a primary school of more than 500 pupils in a former mining town. It is also a teaching school.

The school is regarded as a leader on income generation, and the SBM has presented at a conference for The National College for Teaching and Leadership (National College) on the subject.

The school’s enterprising use of its buildings and resources has the dual effect of aiding community cohesion, as well as generating substantial finances for the school.

Extended school hours

Cotgrave Candleby Lane Primary School is open from 8am to 9pm.

The school hosts a wide range of activities, including Scouts groups, training sessions for local sports teams, monthly cinema nights, and local authority, National College and business meetings.

Site staff are responsible for closing the school at the end of evening activities. The site manager has contractual terms that stipulate weekend working, and he receives an hour's overtime pay at the beginning and end of each session.

Interacting with local businesses

The school also has a creative curriculum, with the aim of introducing 'real-life' situations to the children. As part of this, pupils set up mini-businesses as a way of learning about their community.

The school interacts closely with businesses of all sizes, from small family businesses to large corporate organisations based nearby.

Business in the Community has details of community projects that local businesses can research and take part in. Schools can apply to be considered as one of these community projects.

Differential rates for users

The school sets different rates – business and community – for groups leasing its facilities.

The school sets different rates ... for groups leasing its facilities

The business rate is set competitively and is similar to rates for other facilities, such as leisure centres or conference facilities.

The community rate is a lower charge levied for local groups. Where there is debate over what rate should be set, it is up to the governing board to decide.

Proactively generating ideas

The school has been proactive in sourcing potential customers for its facilities. It has approached local sports associations directly and through marketing campaigns, such as sending out e-leaflets and displaying banners on the school gates and around the site.

It has also sought to integrate itself into the community by approaching large and small local businesses and asking how the school might be involved in their CSR initiatives.

The SBM said:

Schools might not think that they have the capacity to institute the kinds of changes and the schemes that they do at Cotgrave.
However, they should be proactive and creative and look at new challenges as opportunities rather than difficulties.


Nazli Hussein is an experienced school business manager who has worked in both primary and secondary schools. She has a degree in business/finance and a diploma in school business management.

This article was updated in response to a question from the headteacher of a special school in the south east.

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