All too often when we hear ‘sustainability’ it is a euphemism for ‘funding’ and indeed we were very grateful to Paul Hamlyn Foundation; Mercers ; The Shine Trust; GLA corporate partnerships team and Education Endowment Foundation for sharing their insights on what makes a good application and outlining their funding priorities.
However sustainability has much wider meaning.
Many projects and their schools are considering how they can embed their learning and approaches into their own day to day practice using existing resources. Before looking at external funding sources or considering mass reach workshop delegates were urged to be ‘humble’ and ‘honest’ when considering their next step and to focus, in the first instance, on embedding what they have in their own context using existing resources.
That is not to say that projects shouldn’t share their learning more widely – indeed alongside the positive impact on the school system sharing information on projects is a positive step in securing grant funding or developing a trading offer. The Sharing Our Learning booklet provides useful information on how to develop basic communications strategies.
Many projects have developed CPD or teaching resources and over the months ahead lots of these will available, free of charge, on the LondonEd site. Others are looking at how they can ‘productise’ and sell their resources and some interesting ‘trading’ and subscription models are emerging which we will also share here.
Sustainability does often sit alongside ‘taking to scale’ – regardless of how funded – and many projects are considering how to increase reach and replicate their work. Working towards Project Oracle standard 3 is certainly a key step. Replication requires evidence of impact and an understanding of what factors made the difference. To have consistent reach identifying which aspects of the original project need to be repeated with a degree of fidelity to achieve similar outcomes and creating a ‘manualised’ approach that future projects can follow is an essential step.
And – while we started by saying that sustainability does not equal funding – we know that with schools facing a potential 12% cut in budget over the next 4 years and charity funding diminishing that generating income and generating more cost effective methods of delivery are essential to help continue the work of LSEF projects.
The GLA themselves are looking at routes to sustainability. Alongside the reports that will capture the learning from across the programmes the Mayor is releasing funding to support a number of ‘hubs’ across London paying the core costs of staff to focus on knowledge sharing, approaches to sustainability, income generation and reach. We will update on application processes in September.
New collaborations, use of technology and piggy backing on existing infrastructure will all play an important part in next steps.
But income generation will remain a key goal for many LSEF project leads and the short booklet from NotDeadFish who support LLS Finding Funding and Increasing Reach is a useful starter for 10 on how to approach the income generation challenge.