One of the things I was pretty good at was getting funding for my department. For example, in one school I told the headteacher that if he ever found himself in the embarrassing position of having too much money left over towards the end of the financial year, I’d be happy to help him out.
Interestingly, this worked. On several occasions he came up to me and asked me if I would be able to spend a small fortune on computers — usually within the next week. The answer was always, not surprisingly, “yes”.
When I look back, though, I can’t help wondering if perhaps I accepted the sums offered almost too readily. I always said, half jokingly (but only half):
“This is wonderful. Of course, if I had another £2,000 I could also buy…”.
I also raised money by writing and selling a word processing manual by mail order, which I wrote about in the article The Hidden Dangers Of Doing Digital Business: What Schools, Teachers And Students Need To Know. That was in 1992 I think, when self-publishing was much harder than it is today. That earned the school enough money to buy a scanner, which in those days cost around the equivalent of over £700 at today’s prices.
So what was my mistake? Perhaps I should have also asked the parents’ association for more money as well. I enlisted the support of school governors, and senior leaders, and I had good relationships with parents on an informal level. For that reason, sometimes I’d be offered old equipment or software from their companies.
That was all very helpful indeed, but I think if I managed to borrow or invent a time machine and go back to that period, I’d tell my younger self to make a formal presentation to the PA in order to fund more equipment. To do so it’s best to ask if you can present a paper setting out the following:
What you want to buy.
How much it will cost.
Why it’s necessary, that is how it will benefit the pupils.
Why you can’t get the money from any other source.
You may not succeed — I might not have succeeded — but I think it’s worth a try.