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Science department budget very low - advice needed

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by Halogen, Feb 13, 2011.

  1. Halogen

    Halogen New commenter

    My Science departmental budget for last year was £4500. This is £2000-£3000 less than similar sized schools in the same authority (An average cohort has 120 pupils) and is set to decrease again this year. This barely pays for chemical and equipment costs let alone reprographics. Are there any other Science departments with such a low budget and if so what strategies have you used to save money/increase funding? Any suggestions would be appreciated.
  2. I can only dream of £4500 now! Afew years ago I would have £5000 but last year it was £2000 and not enough for consumables and copying. I turned to student teachers for which we get an extra £1500. Without this we would have been stuffed. We've also tried to cut back but there's only so much you can do. How good of a networking group do you have? You could try borrowing and loaning or even club together for larger purchases. How good are your technicians? Mine is an ex TV repairer and a whizz at cobbling things together. Find out what hidden skills and talents they have. Apply for grants... Look to set up clubs (the money they bring in can be used 'creatively' if you get my drift) or try teaching via a CREST award, funding is available for this. You could always tap your PTA for 'extra' curricular activities.

    My cohorts range from 98 to 110 and I teach in Wales... Less money again for me :(
  3. Halogen

    Halogen New commenter

    Thank you. I have contacted the CREST Award coordinator for more information. I have good network links with the Technology department but they are in a similar financial situation to me and will also see a cut in their budget this year. I am keen to improve the quality of practical learning experiences for all pupils but will struggle to do this with insufficient funds. What other networking do you suggest? I have one technician who is doing an excellent job of keeping costs down but is struggling to find solutions with the reduced budget. I have considered running feeder school sessions at a cost and am also looking at buying departmental printers to reduce reprographics charges.
  4. Do you network with other schools in your LEA?
    You could always approach them for a loan of equipment. Or approach a local university or industry. They may even have excess equipment that they may be wanting to 'dispose of'.
  5. To reduce our printing costs, we email worksheets to the pupils. They have to print out at home or in school (pupils have 'print credits' they can use for this sort of thing). This works better than I had expected - so far we are the only department that does it. I can imagine it would not work if all the departments did it. If we do our own printing we use the clean back of 'recycled' paper and, where possible reduce 2 pages of A4 onto one.
    We have also swapped / borrowed / lent equipment with & to an FE college that is close. As for chemicals, we have jokingly agreed that 'homeopathic' chemistry experiments might have to occur - where the water pupils do the experiemtent with 'remembers' that it was in contact with some interesting molecules a while back.
    On a more helpful note: you could try your local 'freecycle' website where people advertise stuff that they are looking either to pass on or to aquire (for free). It is mostly used for domestic items but you may get lucky with some equipment.
  6. You need to look to external sources of funding, local authority's and other places. If you are spending large amounts of your budget on photocopying, then you need to see what is being photocopied and try to put systems in place to prevent this, for example making staff need to get you to counter-sign printing requisition forms. Though I do admit, 2-3K budget is low, there is no point moaning about it, you need to discuss with you line manager and seek a response from your head teacher. If you don't feel you are going to get a response, then request a meeting with the head teacher yourself to discuss it. A word of warning however, you can't just ask for more money. You need to cost out what you think it is you will need, and put together a detailed budget proposal, particularly if you are requesting an audience with the head. I have done this on two fronts, one to our school, and one to the local authority. Between both of these I have secured funding for most of my requirements.

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