Schools lost in the search for Camelot

Diane Spencer

The National Lottery has yielded Pounds 834 million, but education has yet to reap much benefit. Diane Spencer reports while, below . . .

For once Virginia Bottomley, the new Heritage Secretary, has some pleasing statistics to bombard us with. Her department's latest report on National Lottery awards showed that since Camelot launched the scheme last November, three billion tickets have been sold with more than Pounds 834 million raised for good causes.

Nearly 800 grants have been awarded totalling more than Pounds 228m with three-quarters for less than Pounds 100,000 and 4 per cent for more than Pounds 1 million. "This amounts to a rich tapestry of good causes benefiting from the lottery," she said.

But only about 20 schools in England and eight in Wales have so far succeeded in getting cash from the Sports Council, one of the main distributors of lottery money. Even fewer colleges and universities have benefited.

Many schools seem unsure how to apply and teachers do not have the time to attract sponsors. Cash-strapped education authorities are unable to employ specialist officers and find it hard to raise the "matching funding" they need to qualify. In the education world, gaining awards seems as chancy as actually winning the lottery.

Of the 160 grants awarded by the Arts Council - another major distributor of lottery cash - fewer than a dozen went to mainstream educational institutions. The Sports Council has received just over 1,500 applications and the Arts Council is still assessing 300.

"In most cases they don't fulfil the criteria so we ask them to revise their applications so it is more of a revision than a rejection," said Sue Rose, an Arts Council spokeswoman.

The bulk of the Sports Council's 330 grants went to sports clubs and community groups covering 35 sports and 28 multi-sport projects, many involving young people.

However, contrary to press reports, Eton College is not getting a penny. Maidenhead council has been awarded Pounds 3.8m to develop a regional athletics centre. Eton has provided 11 acres, Pounds 200,000, and a running track worth at least Pounds 1m towards the project which will be managed by a trust.

Eton students will use the new facilities, but will share them with elite athletes, local schools, clubs and the public. A Sports Council spokesman said it was a good scheme which "will open up the playing fields of Eton".

The Sports Council issued a warning last May about the imbalance of applications from the regions, in particular from inner cities. Only 55 inner-city organisations had applied for grants up to then. The council is now considering relaxing the requirement for applicants to raise 35 per cent of the money they need.

Under Government directions for use of lottery funds, the council is not allowed to "solicit" applications, but it can encourage various sectors to apply for funds.

The Arts Council is under the same constraints, but Ms Rose said applications have been evenly spread across the country and all art forms have been represented. The regional arts bodies, which are not so restricted, had been "instrumental in drumming up applications - they've been out there hustling".

Rainsford high school, a grant-maintained school in Chelmsford, Essex, is the biggest beneficiary in the arts education world so far with a Pounds 100, 000 grant for its performing arts centre. Robinswood primary in Matson, Gloucestershire, has got Pounds 80,000 to modernise and enlarge the school hall to open it to the local community.

More modestly, Merrill community school in Derby got Pounds 5,000 to buy instruments for its music centre: a bonus in a county which abolished its music service four years ago and Lexden Springs, a special school for children with severe learning difficulties in Colchester, received Pounds 11,621 for sound and lighting equipment.

East London University and the City of Leeds College of Music are the only two higher education winners as yet with Pounds 24,900 and Pounds 7,875 respectively.

For sport, Bath University, one of the venues in this year's European Youth Olympics, was the biggest recipient in May with Pounds 2.7m towards the Pounds 4.2m cost of building a multi-sport training village. Arthur Terry, a Birmingham comprehensive, hit the headlines in March, when the council granted the school Pounds 750,000 to develop its sports facilities to improve community access.

Since then Malory secondary in the London borough of Lewisham has won almost as much for a multi-sports hall and the already well-equipped King Edward VII upper school in Melton Mowbray more than Pounds 300,000 for a hall.

Mrs Bottomley promises that this is only the beginning. "Over the years literally thousands of other organisations will also benefit, providing our country with facilities that will be the envy of the world."

Sporting chances

The Sports Council funds projects requiring capital expenditure such as facilities for grassroots and elite sport. In some cases applications for cash to purchase substantial equipment will be considered. Applicants are currently required to raise 35 per cent of the money.

The council considers whether schemes: * offer community benefit with a commitment to all sectors regardless of gender, race, religion or disability; * are based in areas where there is evidence of a shortfall and of demand; * are likely to have good long-term management and a wide participation; * make a contribution towards bids to stage major sporting events; * conform to high technical, safety and design standards; * have partnership funding and local support; * demonstrate sound financial viability.

The Sports Council's lottery helpline is 0345 649649.

Profitable arts

The Arts Council funds capital projects such as the construction of refurbishment of buildings, purchase of equipment, commissioning of works of public art. (The council cannot fund the day-to-day running costs of organisations.) * all forms of art are eligible; * projects must take place in England; * registered charities, local authorities, schools, colleges or universities, amateur or voluntary groups or public-sector agencies are eligible; * in special circumstances a commercial organisation may be eligible, but its project must greatly benefit the public. Individuals cannot apply; * grants of less than Pounds 5,000 are not normally given; * organisations must raise 10 per cent of money for projects costing less than Pounds 100,000 and 25 per cent for those costing more.

The Arts Council enquiry line is 0171 312 0123.

Both councils emphasise the importance of reading their guidance notes before making an application

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