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Sponsor with caution

Since City Technology Colleges, sponsorship has become part of school life. Now all secondary schools in England can bid for funds with the support of sponsorship. You find Pounds 100,000 and the Department for Education matches it. This year the bids are for Language and Technology College status, closing date October 20 1995.

Sponsorship of Pounds 100,000 in total is not easy to find, which can place the school in a real dilemma. The DFE requires a three-year development plan, a sound admissions policy and measurable performance indicators. You are required to give details of sponsorship pledged, proposals for achieving on-going links with the sponsors, and a project proposal with costings, showing how you will be using the additional annual grant which is based on pupil numbers.

Clearly, you won't be able to start if you are short of the Pounds 100, 000 sponsorship, but finding sponsorship while staying within the terms of reference laid down by the DFE is not easy.

These days most firms want their pound of flesh as part of any sponsorship deal, so schools should proceed with great care when a company links the money on offer with an order.

Items are required to be tendered if public funds are involved, and schools must avoid entering purchasing agreements which might breach this principle.

The proposal from a manufacturer or supplier may go like this, "I am happy to sponsor your school for Pounds 30,000 once you have placed the order for Pounds 100,000".

Are the goods worth Pounds 70,000? The DFE states that "Any such goods, equipment and materials must be valued at a price which the school could have negotiated on the open market."

If you are bidding for funds you must not link "gifts" with the order. Be careful as there are many offers on the table, and there are no free lunches. The mixture of public money and private funding must be open for scrutiny.

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