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Impossible fundraising challenge

JUST how difficult is it to raise pound;50,000? Well-nigh impossible, says Sandringham school, in St Albans, Hertfordshire. The comprehensive was one of three local schools to launch a joint fundraising bid for specialist status in March. Jan Palmer-Sayer, deputy head, and her counterparts Nick Daymond, from Beaumont school, and Mark Anderson, from Verulam school, visited every bank and building society in the town and wrote to more than 100 firms.

Mrs Palmer-Sayer penned an article for a national newspaper on her school's struggle to become an arts college, also covered in The TES. In September, Sandringham spent a week in the spotlight when BBC Breakfast news filmed there. But, despite all this, its funding drive has hit a wall at pound;29,000. Most money has come from events, with pound;500 being the maximum any firm has donated. None of the three schools is confident of opening with a new status next September.

The root cause may be donation fatigue among local firms. Eight of St Albans nine secondaries have or are bidding for specialist status.

Projects from setting up a theatre to running summer schools for the gifted are on hold because of the lack of cash. Mrs Palmer-Sayer said: "It seems daft that all this stuff could fall through for the sake of pound;50,000. If so, I will look back and ask myself what I have been doing for the past year."

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