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Open doors let cash roll in

Ingenious schools find ways to raise funds - even if it means turning into a hotel. Helen Ward and Joseph Lee report

Be it taking in Jehovah's Witnesses on retreat or sloshing around in wellies full of jelly, there is little schools will not do to raise money.

Ingenuity and entrepreneurship abound as schools raise cash to ensure children have books, equipment - and teachers.

Premises are let out, fashion shows, car-boot sales, fetes and fairs are regularly organised, while donations are sought from businesses, churches and parents.

And no child is too young to raise money. Official figures show that nursery schools raised an average pound;31,185 or pound;5.9 million in a year. Primaries raised pound;624.5m, an average pound;34,758.

England's 1,099 special schools brought in an extra pound;61.7m, an average pound;56,174, while its 3,415 secondaries generated pound;758m, an average pound;221,961.

The 31 state secondary boarding schools raised an average of almost pound;1m each.

Top of the fund-raisers is Wymondham college, a state boarding school in Norfolk, which raised pound;3.5m. Much of this income comes from the school's boarders, who pay pound;6,417 a year. But during the holidays, rooms for 550 people are rented out for courses, retreats or sporting events, bringing in around pound;250,000 in a typical year.

The Norwich chapter of Jehovah's Witnesses is one of a number of groups which rent out the school's boarding houses. Others include the Western Order of Buddhists and the intriguing Nairobi Hootenanny 2003 Reunion.

Clive Richardson, vice-principal and bursar, said: "We're in a nice location ... and we tend to attract religious organisations looking for retreats."

A link with Lotus, the sports car manufacturer based nearby, also paid dividends for the school when the company donated one of its 160mph Carlton cars one year, and an Elise the next. Staff put the cars, worth nearly Pounds 80,000, up for sale and the money raised went towards the school building fund.

Hillcrest school in Dudley lets out its classrooms, but Mo Brennan, headteacher, said: "We won't make pound;3m. The seagulls here are from the local tip, not the sea."

Her school raised pound;144,160 last year through a combination of fundraising and sponsorship.

"As long as it's not illegal or immoral, I will do it." she said.


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