Forging connections with the local community

The Cotswold School’s focus on building relationships with its community is paying off

‘The Cotswold School is a popular and happy 11-18 comprehensive school, rated Outstanding by Ofsted in four consecutive inspections. However, our ability to achieve this success is challenging within the current funding climate. Situated in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire, we are one of the lowest funded schools in one of the lowest funded local authorities. We have to work exceptionally hard to balance our budget and maintain our bedrock of high-quality teaching.

This means we are always looking at ways to generate additional funding and support. We do this through maximising our assets, and nurturing relationships with businesses and our broader community, as well as traditional fundraising activities.

In normal times, we raise around £35,000 through sports lettings to the community. We typically raise £25,000 by repurposing our playing field into a car park for tourists over the summer holidays. We also capitalise on our status as an Outstanding school to gain additional funding. We have teaching school status, which brings a grant worth £40,000, and our principal is a National Leader of Education. We are able to generate additional revenue by providing support to other schools.

Our principal has been at the school for 24 years and over this time has forged strong connections with families and the local community. He is able to contact people directly in order to help with fundraising initiatives, and, as a result, we have ongoing parental donations of £20,000 each year – and have received some very generous one-off donations. We’re also constantly writing bids for grants – and recently received £15,000 for two classroom sets of iPads.

As a result of Covid-19, we found ourselves in great need of covered outdoor space. We invited local businesses to donate towards a canopy to create a new covered eating area. We had a great response: eight local businesses donated between £500 and £5,000 towards the project, and we’ve raised just over £20,000 in total. To thank them for their donations, we are displaying their logos on the main school fence, close to the canopy.

Pulhams, a local family-run coach company, works with the school in a number of ways, from sponsoring pupils’ sports kits to helping out on car parking days and providing funding for a counsellor in school. Our ‘business friends’ scheme is definitely something that we’ll continue to develop.

Finally, we have an incredible PTA and supporting team of volunteers. Our PTA typically raises £15,000-£20,000 a year through various activities, including a Christmas raffle and selling teas and cakes at a nearby National Trust property.

  • Mandy Tye, CFO, The Cotswold School, Gloucestershire (1,400 pupils)

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