Funding for school trips: We raised £6,000 to fund a trip to the seaside

‘Our primary used the FundEd grants database to secure funding towards our school trip

Downsell Primary is a maintained school in an area of deprivation, with one of the highest levels of SEND pupils in the East London borough of Waltham Forest. Our roll has fallen in recent years, so we face significant financial challenges. However, we are committed to inclusive education, and every one of our pupils is valued as an individual. Our aim is to ensure that coming to school is a positive experience and we place great emphasis on providing cultural capital opportunities for our children, regardless of barriers they may face. We aim to give them ten key life experiences before they leave our school – and going to the beach is one of them.

Last year our headteacher, Deena Chetty, found out during a whole school assembly that most of the pupils had never been to the beach. He decided to fundraise for a day trip to Canvey Island, a sandy beach located in the Thames Estuary just off the coast of Essex. The idea was that each year group, from Reception to Year 6, would travel by coach and spend the day connecting with the natural environment of the beach.

The school needed £6,000, but we didn’t have a PTA at the time, so the fundraising campaign was driven by the head and other staff. We ran several after-school events, selling ice lollies, burgers and chips and other snacks. We also held a summer fete. The parents loved every event and we raised about £3,000 in total. The headteacher also approached a local development company running a regeneration project in our area and managed to secure a £2,000 donation. That left us £1,000 short.

I looked on the grants database and struck lucky. I found two charities that support projects to encourage outdoor activity and enhance the physical and mental wellbeing of children. I applied to online. The process was quick, simple and clear and they awarded us £300. I also applied to The Henry Smith Charity online – and we were generously awarded £1,190. Both awards were made within a month of the application. This additional £1,490 meant that the cost of the entire trip, which took place during the last week of the summer term, was covered and the school was able to buy all the children ice cream and chips on the day.

Our children have very inquisitive minds, and the beach, with its changing landscape of sounds, images and smells, ignited their imagination and curiosity about the world around them. The weather was wonderful, which enhanced their mood and vitamin D levels (with protective measures in place, of course). For many, this was the first time they had experienced the wonders of being at the seaside, splashing around in the cold water and feeling the sand between their toes. The generous donations we received made this wonderful day possible, leaving our children with treasured memories they will revisit time and again.

  • Chane Hepper, school business manager, Downsell Primary School, Leyton, East London (375 pupils excluding nursery)

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