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When the going gets tough…

 

One World Evening

So, the Campaign for Fairer Funding is gaining momentum and this week I was presented with letters, written by some of our pupils, to forward on to the PM. We all know that politicians are terrified of dismissing the views of children, so any support with this underhand tactic is encouraged.

The initial reaction to potential funding cuts is always to consider which services may need to be reduced. However, as a school that has been underfunded for years, I think we have learnt to be quite resourceful in the face of adversity. Our starting point is always to consider how we can find a way, by hook or by crook, to maintain the quality of education we provide. And we have a good track record. In 2011 we lost all local authority funding to the Family Centre, but the service remains as good as ever. The solution was to change the model of delivery, find alternative sources of income and involve the community. Next Sunday’s Fun Run for the Family Centre is a great example of community fundraising that will help the school to maintain this much loved service.

Last week I made the case for state education to be funded by the state, but there is always a role for fundraising. Last year, when faced with the prospect of a deficit budget, the response of the governing body was to spend more – and employ the services of Claire Ashworth, our Communications, Marketing and Fundraising Officer for three days a week. This is a role that is commonplace in the independent sector, so we argued that there must be potential for us to do the same. Private schools may have more wealthy alumni, but we’ve got Sir Rod Stewart. He’s yet to contribute to his old primary school but there will come a time!

One year on, and with a lot of research on form filling, Claire has been successful with bids to a whole range of charities, trusts and foundations. Some have donated a few hundred pounds, whilst others have given quite substantial amounts. This investment has resulted in funding for all manner of school projects and activities including the Kaos Signing Choir, the playground project, whole class music tuition, forest schools and the school allotment.

The other part of Claire’s role is raising the profile of the school in the community in order to increase our school roll – and more children means more funding. The conclusion of the school vision work carried out by Dr Ingrid Wassenaar in 2016 was that the school now needs to have confidence in itself, needs to “blow its own trumpet”, and take the message to the world. Claire is clearly doing this rather well and we now have more children on roll than ever before, albeit a few less than the 877 that attended Highgate Primary in 1898.

This Friday we are all looking forward to Highgate Primary’s One World Evening. This brilliant event unites our community with a fantastic celebration of multi-culturalism – and probably offers the best buffet in North London! Where else can you bring a dish and get to sample lovingly prepared food from all around the world to a backdrop of incredible music, singing and dancing, for just £5 – whilst helping to protect the future of our wonderful school?

William

 

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