Terry Freedman discovers a book with a wealth of useful information that’s sadly hard to navigate

One of the chief banes of my life as a head of computing in a comprehensive school was acquiring enough money to develop the subject and to improve the experience of using education technology for everyone across the school. My experience is not unique, of course. The same lament is heard from teachers and subject leaders across the land, and the ever-present budget constraints have only made the situation more challenging.

That’s where this book comes in. I only wish it had been available when I needed it most.

Lindsey Marsh’s book has much to like. It is fantastically comprehensive, and sometimes imaginative, with a wealth of ideas and suggestions for topping up the coffers. For those who still hold on to the idea of fundraising as holding a raffle, running a tombola and selling cakes at the summer fete, The School Fundraising Handbook will soon have you rethinking how to generate cash. Indeed, there’s enough in these pages to challenge even the more creative fundraiser to raise their game.

The book follows a logical structure, most chapters containing ideas for activities, followed by suggestions about how to pay for them or make money from them.

Some of it is about rethinking those events that might at first glance appear to be a loss, such as author visits. A visiting writer deserves to be paid, but if you can get together with other schools and charge parents a small amount towards the cost, you could make a small profit. Running a breakfast club is obviously going to cost money, but the price you charge to attend should cost parents less than the services of a childminder, and could be an attractive proposition for all involved.

Unfortunately, the book is far from perfect

But there’s plenty of other practical advice too, such as how to complete grant applications and what to consider when planning a school trip or residential visit. In addition, there are lots of useful websites cited, and the preponderance of bullet points will gladden the busy teacher or school leader. Although the book is quite long, at over 200 pages, it is very accessible. There are even a few pages for notes at the end of the book.

Unfortunately, the book is far from perfect. There are plenty of problems, but none that a second edition couldn’t easily fix.

First, as an ICT and computing specialist, I’m pleased with the amount of space devoted to various aspects of ed tech. However, other subject specialists may feel they have been given short shrift, and over-reliance on technology to save money has its problems too. Without proper consideration, it can be symptomatic of short-termism which can turn out to be costly in its own right, long after the cost of implementation is considered.

Second, there is no index. Many of the chapters are devoted to one particular aspect of school life, and organisations and their websites are provided in the most appropriate locations in the book. However, some of these could easily be useful across a number of contexts, and such a huge amount of information needs as many tools as possible to help readers find their way around the book.

Third, it’s wonderful that so many websites are included, but copying a long URL from page to browser address bar is never pleasant. A URL shortener, or clever use of QR codes, could have made for a much easier user experience.

Fourth, and at the risk of sounding pernickety, I was surprised to find that the section on author visits makes no mention of the Society of Authors, which maintains an online directory of authors who are willing to visit schools, along with advice on running author visits. It’s a strange omission that begs the question of gaps in research in other areas.

Overall then, this a fantastic resource – a superb repository of suggestions, resources and practical tips – that could have been made much stronger with some astute editing, and more thought given to the user’s navigation.