School Funders’ Network

The Schools Funders Network is a group of grant-makers that the EEF helped convene in 2013, together with the Association of Charitable Foundations (ACF), the umbrella association of grant-makers.

School Funders' Network meeting, May 2016Membership is open to grant-makers with an active interest in funding work to address educational disadvantage within state-funded schools and colleges for children and young people aged 5-18.

The focus of the group is on practical learning from our grant-funded projects, identifying ‘what next?’ steps with the aim of greater collaboration between funders.

We aim to meet three times a year, for further information, please contact Stephen Tall.

Here's what has been discussed so far:

19th May, 2016

  • 'Behind the Toolkit' led by Professor Steve Higgins, professor of education at Durham University. It’s five years since the Sutton Trust-EEF Teaching and Learning Toolkit was launched. Today, this Which-style guide summarising the world’s education evidence about different approaches, offering teachers ‘best bets’ of what has worked most effectively to boost the attainment of disadvantaged pupils, is used by 64 per cent of school-leaders. In this presentation, the Toolkit’s co-author, Prof. Higgins will go ‘behind the Toolkit’ to explain how it works and how it’s intended to be used by schools. He will also give his thoughts on how school-funders of varying sizes can evaluate the impact of their funded projects in order to generate evidence that’s of wider benefit to the education sector. His slides are available here.

15th March, 2016

  • ‘Building evidence across a sector: the effectiveness of outdoor learning’ led by Caroline Fiennes, founder of Giving Evidence and Jo Wells, director of the Blagrave Trust. What does the evidence on outdoor learning in the UK tell us – and what can funders learn from it that will inform our grant-making? This was the question the Blagrave Trust set out to find the answer to when it commissioned Caroline to carry out a systematic review of what we know about the sector. In this session, Jo Wells shared her experience of the rationale, process and approach to developing this work. And Caroline Fiennes offered her perspective on how trusts and foundations can help build the evidence base in their focus areas. You can read the findings of the outdoor learning study funded by Blagrave Trust here:

18th January, 2016

  • 'The Policy Picture: Creating a self-managing, self-improving schools system' was the title of the presentation by Frank Green (national Schools Commissioner) in which he talked about what’s often termed "the fragmentation of the schools system", with an autonomous school-led system replacing the previous local authority-run model. What are the implications of this change for the work of school funders? Where do schools looking for support to self-improve now turn? What does it mean for schools in the 'cold spots', where there are often high proportions of disadvantaged pupils? This session aimed to tackle these questions and many others. His slides are available here.

30th September, 2015

  • ‘Mental health provision in schools’ led by Dr Miranda Wolpert, Director of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Evidence Based Practice Unit, part of both University College London and Anna Freud Centre. Her presentation was titled ‘What kinds of mental health activities (5-18) should be the focus for funders’ grant-making and what should they be aiming to learn?’ and her slides are available here.
  • ‘What next? Priorities and partnership group discussion’ We’ll think through the implications for us as schools funders of Dr Wolpert’s presentation, and also share current funder priorities to find out what we are each of us doing and identify potential areas for collaboration.

25th June, 2015

  • ‘Careers education: what do we know about works best?’ led by Professor Tristram Hooley, Professor of Career Education at the University of Derby and Head of the International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS), looking at the policy and delivery context of careers education in schools and colleges; identifying what is already known about the key ingredients of effective careers education; highlighting current gaps in our understanding; and offering some hints about the best ways of evaluating the success of funded work. A copy of Prof. Hooley's presentation is available at his blog here.
  • ‘What next? Priorities and partnership group discussion’We’ll think through the implications for us as schools funders of Prof. Hooley’s presentation, and also share current funder priorities to find out what we are each of us doing and identify potential areas for collaboration.

3rd December, 2014

  • ‘The role of parental engagement’ led by The Sutton Trust’s Laura Barbour and James Turner and Esmée Fairbairn Foundation’s Gina Crane. Esmée and Sutton-Trust are about to launch a joint funding round on ‘Parental engagement’ and will speak to this joint work and their hopes for what they’ll learn.
  • Funder collaboration ‘speed-matching’... We’re going to trial a form of ‘speed-dating’ to help everyone involved get the most out of the knowledge, experience and expertise in the room. No time for small-talk, you have to cut to the chase! What are the areas of schools funding you’re working on where you want to team up? Which areas do you want to know more about? By the end of it, we’ll know more about what we’re all doing and hopefully have struck up a useful conversation or three to pick up afterwards.

1st July, 2014

  • ‘Funding innovation: why money on its own isn’t enough’ led by Nesta’s Amy Solder and Oliver Quinlan, explored what school funders need to consider when supporting innovations and innovators make their ideas a reality by drawing on Nesta’s experience as an innovation funder.
  • ‘A Headteacher’s Perspective’ :Dame Sue John (pictured), Headteacher of Lampton School, Hounslow, joined us to offer a school’s-eye view of the current education landscape. Lampton was included in Ofsted’s ‘Twelve outstanding schools – Excelling against the odds’ publication, and designated one of the first 100 Teaching Schools in the country.

3rd April, 2014

  • “Scaling up: what do you do next when you find something that works?” led by Amelia Sussman ( Impetus-PEF);
  • “The What Works Network: what it is and how it hopes to work with funders” led by Ross Neilson (Cabinet Office).

21 November, 2013

  • “Collaboration in focus: a case study” led by Teresa Priest (Walcot Foundation) and Paul Carbury (SHINE Trust) on how their two organisations have worked together.
  • “What can funders measure and what should funders measure in schools?” led by Dr Becky Allen, Reader in Economics of Education at the Institute of Education.

21st May, 2013

Chaired by Dr Kevan Collins, the EEF’s Chief Executive, with two guest speakers, both senior members of the civil service with a particular interest in schools funding policy:

  • Kate O'Neill - Senior Policy Advisor on Social Mobility, Cabinet Office
  • Andy Tyerman - Head of Improving Pupil Performance, Dept for Education