WHAT CHANCE does your school have of winning the Lottery? Could that dingy old hall, leaking roof, dilapidated gymnasium or Victorian playground benefit from a large injection of somebody else's money?
Many heads and governors assume that Lottery grants aren't available to schools - and the rules do indeed bar schemes that ought to receive funding from the Government.
But it's a rare school that has no links with its local community and funding for community initiatives - even if the money is actually spent on a school site - is well provided for under Lottery rules.
Who makes the application? That is the crucial point. If a local charity - parents group, music society, drama group, sports club - uses your school site, then you should look into supporting an application by the group for purpose-built facilities.
The money comes from a variety of sources. It's a question of getting your hands on it. One thing is clear: the school cannot apply directly.
The first step, therefore, is to seek out that community group and offer to help with their application.
The second step is to approach the distributing bodies (see box, right) to see which Lottery fund best meets the needs of your scheme.
Do no detailed work until contact has been made and procedures explained. Some lottery applications are simple matters of a few pages of A4, others involve detailed submissions, legal opinions, architects drawings... the works.
A failed application does not preclude a second successful bid and organisations can bid again, even if they have been successful.
Westgate School in Slough, west London, formed a partnership with a local table tennis club. The club needed a site and the school had land available. "They offered us the land for free," said club secretary Ken Phillips.
Sports fund lottery money followed and a pound;500,000 table tennis hall was built on the site. The building is owned by the school and used for "soft" activities during the day.
"Trampolining, dance and of course table tennis," says deputy head Nan Billingham. In the evening the club takes over. It's a joint-use agreement, just one of the ways that schools can wangle their own win on the lottery.
The Farmington Institute in Oxford has won funding through the Millennium Awards Scheme for in-service training for teachers.
RE teachers interested in special needs can apply for an award that lets them to take time out to develop resources for the classroom.
All lesson cover, tuition and personal expenses would be covered by the award.
Foxhills infant and junior schools near Southampton were awarded a Millennium Festival grant of nearly pound;22,000 to create a forest trail on their school site. The schools share six acres of land much of which couldn't be used because of flooding from the nearby River Test. The award will cover the construction of a boardwalk, pathways and trails through the site.
Chadsgrove special school in Bromsgrove, Birmingham, was awarded pound;49,705 by the Charities Board to build an adventure play area for use by local children with disabilities.
Phil Revell can be contacted at email@example.com
SIX GOOD CAUSES THAT PAY OUT LOTTERY MONEY
NEW OPPORTUNITIES FUND
1. Out-of-school-hours education and childcare. By the autumn of 2001 grants totalling pound;400 million should enable at least half of all secondaries, a quarter of all primaries and a half of all special schools to conduct regular out-of-hours learning. Projects are likely to include homework and study clubs, and creative and sporting activities.
2. ICT training. The New Opportunities Fund has found pound;230 million for unlocking the mysteries of computers in the classroom for teachers. Grants will enable teachers to take advantage of the new National Grid for Learning. Training will be linked to the national curriculum.
3. Digitisation. pound;50 million is available for the digitisation of learning materials. This will make information currently available only to specialised or local audiences accessible to people across the UK on CD-Rom and via the Internet.
4. Healthy living centres. pound;300 million has been allocated to establish a network of healthy living centres The centres will promote health and help people of all ages to maximise their well-being. Schools are welcome to make applications in partnership with other local groups.
5. Capital schemes. Ninety per cent funding is available for schemes that provide new sports facilities. Priority is given to inner cities, former mining areas and areas of rural poverty.
6. Sports action zones. Expected in the next 12 months, these will be given high priority for Lottery money and will be areas where "sports provision falls below acceptable levels". Schools could be one of the partners involved in setting up a zone.
7. Active schools co-ordinators. Specifically aimed at schools, these 600 full time co-ordinators will be recruited next year. They will work with schools to promote participation and build links with sports clubs, governing bodies and the local community. It is anticipated that one co-ordinator would work with three or four secondaries plus their feeder primaries. The posts will be full-time and are likely to attract a salary equivalent to that of a newly qualified teacher, entirely funded by the Lottery.
8. Community involvement awards to encourage working together.
9. Poverty and disadvantage. Awards to challenge poverty and widen access to essential services and facilities.
10. Possibly the least fruitful area for schools. Arts Lottery money tends to go to established arts projects, but if a school shared premises with an arts organisation then it could be worth investigating the arts capital programme.
11. The heritage education initiative aims to target older children and promote their enjoyment, knowledge and understanding of their heritage - especially in a local context.
12. Festival awards for all. A scheme to help small community groups, cash from this fund is available as part of the programmes of all the Lottery distributors. It concentrates on funding small-scale arts, charities, sports and heritage activities.
13. Awards for individuals. These small awards allow individuals to work at a project that will benefit the community. Examples include education and environmental projects. Many of the beneficiaries have been teachers.
Awards are channelled through charities and organisations such as the Farmington Institute (see main story, left). Of course, the least reliable way to win the lottery is to go out and buy a ticket. Whether the school's auditors would see this as a legitimate investment is questionable.
WHERE TO APPLY
There are six Lottery Good Causes and 12 grant distributing bodies. These are the ones you should concentrate on:
The Sports Councils of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They finance elite athletes such as Colin Jackson and Denise Lewis alongside programmes which aim to develop rising stars and improve Britain's sporting facilities at grass-roots level. Tel: 0345 649 649
National Lottery Charities Board supports charitable, benevolent or philanthropic groups. Tel: 0345 919191
The Arts Councils of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland support arts groups, arts institutions and individual projects.
Tel: 0171 312 0123
The Millennium Commission distributes pound;2 billion to mark the millennium, with matching funds from other sources. The result is a pound;4 billion programme. This isn't just the Dome: there are nearly 200 projects on more than 3,000 sites. Schemes range from village halls to new museums and galleries.
Tel: 0845 600 2040
The New Opportunities Fund a new Lottery distribution body, controlled by the Department of Culture Media and Sport. Responsible for distributing grants for health, education and environment initiatives determined by the Government.
Heritage Lottery Fund funds preservation work and the celebration of Britain's Heritage sites and artefacts.
Tel: 0171 591 6000