Case study ; Chestnut Grove Academy
To establish development at Chestnut Grove Academy to add value to the curriculum, upgrade facilities, and provide enrichment opportunities.
Chestnut Grove Academy is an 11-19 mixed partially selective secondary school with academy status in Balham, London. Chestnut Grove School was formed in 1986, by the amalgamation of Henry Thornton School and Hydeburn School.
It became an academy in July 2011 and has 1,000 pupils.
The governors of Chestnut Grove Academy first started discussing development in 2010. The board at this time included some governors with business expertise, who understood the need for investment in fundraising, to raise additional funds.
The school at this point however, was not ready. The governors started carrying out their due diligence, researching how professional fundraising might work within the school, talking to other schools who had introduced a development role, and investing time in shifting the culture of the school to one that would accept an investment in a fundraising role.
With a new head in 2014 and outstanding achieved in Ofsted, there came the opportunity to focus on the long—term future of the school and how to maintain this level of success. At the same time, Chestnut Grove became an academy. This gave the school increased independence and greater influence over its strategic direction and financial decisions, but equally there was concern around future funding for the school.
The governing body, in conjunction with the business manager, made the decision to move forward development, based on the three year financial projection which showed a clear deficit on the horizon. The board of governors appointed a development manager in January 2015. Initially, the new role reported into the business manager, and sat in an office on her own but this was not as effective as it could have been, as it divorced the development manager from the support available to her from the governing body.
To date, the development manager has raised over £400,000 towards a variety of projects for the school and wider community, from new 36 pitches to equipment for the DT department.
The Board of governors
‘Initially the development manager reported into the business manager and was in an office on her own, but this didn't work as she was not involved in school life. Now the development manager sits in the central office and reports into the headmaster. They have weekly catch ups, the headmaster can re—enforce fundraising messages to all staff, and he also plays an important role in celebrating fundraising success — development has become part of the fabric of the school. The post has shifted the mind—set from dependence only on central funds to seeing provision as part of a mixed economy and that young people and parents can get involved. The development manager's link to the Friends of Chestnut Grove has widened stakeholders involvement and engendered an excitement around fundraising, thus reducing fears about the future and a desire to seek out what is possible.’ (Judi Dumont—Barter, Governor, Chestnut Grove Academy)
‘The ethos of the school is that we are one community. The headteacher and governors lead by example, the headteacher is involved in our school's gardening club, and the governors are all hands on and always available if! need them. Everyone is encouraged to give no matter how big or small. Initially, I think I tried to introduce too much, and some of the schemes I set up were particularly labour intensive. I've been working with the Friends of Chestnut Grove to provide further support. It's important to find a happy balance between community engagement and fundraising (Sharon Noble, Development Manager, Chestnut Grove Academy)
‘The development manager's role is about more than just fundraising. Yes to date, we have raised over £400,000 for improvements to the school and to provide further opportunities for our young people, but what's just as important is we have been able to engage with and support the local community. Investing in development has been transformational both for our school and for our community.’ (Christian Kingsley, Headteacher, Chestnut Grove Academy)
Headteacher and governors
1. Do your homework: carry out your research, talk to other schools, ask for advice from the IDPE community, this will both provide reassurance and mitigate the risk.
2. Manage expectations: set a strategy that has short, medium and long-term goals, consider what are the quick wins that will encourage staff support, what are the medium-term projects that can really make a difference and what is your ultimate long-term goal that might take a number of years to achieve.
3. Take a leap of faith: you can spend a lot of time worrying about how much it is going to cost, what will staff and parents think about the school investing in professional fundraising, but if you have done your homework and managed expectations, then it's time to take the leap. 4. Keep communication lines open always: an open door policy is key, so that development does not appear secretive but shared.
1. Take time to plan and get to know everyone: particularly if fundraising is something new to the school — all staff will need time to get to know you and to understand how fundraising works, ask teachers what they want and try to get some quick wins to show to colleagues the difference you can make.
2. Start small and build incrementally: Rome wasn't built in a day, pilot different activities to see what works, what your community will get involved in, what is likely to grow before investing significant amount of time and resource into a project.
3. Bring biscuits to every meeting: it helps break the ice and shows you giving right from the outset.
With special thanks to Judi Dumont-Barter, Governor; Christian Kingsley, Headteacher; and Sharon Noble, Development Manager; Chestnut Grove Academy.