Bringing the Sports Campus to Life: Our Funding Story

The Royal Latin takes partnership working to a refreshingly different level, adopting a new approach to sponsorships, philanthropy, community and sustainability which is being shared with other schools across the country. Whether it’s corporate partnerships, partnerships with local sports clubs, or with charitable foundations or community groups, the school focuses on engaging like-minded people and on creating positive change and outcomes for all. 

When appointed as Headteacher in 2010, David Hudson was keen to explore whether fundraising – or development or advancement, as fundraising and alumni relations in education establishments is often called – could be the solution to the rapidly deteriorating state of the school. The school appointed Jo Ballantine as Director of Development that same year, and the pair began to assess the feasibility of launching a major capital campaign to help rescue and replace the school’s buildings. 

At around that time, the school was in the unenviable position of being the ‘worst funded school in England’, receiving less statutory funding per pupil than any other school, and had suffered from a lack of capital investment in buildings for many decades. In the face of relentless cuts to education budgets, the school community had reached the point of feeling that it had no choice but to take matters into its own hands, and launch a charitable fundraising campaign to make essential improvements. Water was leaking through the roof, classrooms were cramped, dark and cold, and students weren’t experiencing the 21st Century educational experiences that those in other state schools were enjoying. 

Under Jo’s direction, the 600 Campaign, led by a voluntary board of parents and alumni, was launched in 2012, with the aim of transforming the teaching and learning environment at the school in advance of the 600th anniversary of the school in 2023.

Since then, the school has successfully funded a £5m Discovery Centre, £1m 6th Form Study Centre, and the £3m Sports Campus, opening this month. Work to assess the feasibility of launching  the final phase of the campaign in 2024, to build a theatre and arts centre, is underway. 

The Sports Campus has been funded by a wide range of individuals and organisations, from businesses, charitable trusts and foundations, Section 106 funding from local developers via Buckinghamshire Council, special events and a plethora of community fundraising activities, from sponsored challenges to bake sales to car washes, involving students, families and staff.

“We’re certainly not the only state school to be fundraising, but we are one of the first to create such a bold, long term vision for our school. It’s that clarity of vision, our ability to demonstrate the positive impact that improvements to the learning environment will make, and our commitment to bringing together volunteers to help us deliver the vision that make the 600 Campaign so effective. We’re brave enough to ask for help, and we truly value every single donation. Our community is united in wanting to deliver the best possible educational experience for our young people – and it’s an honour and a joy for the Development team to be able to help make that happen.“

Jo Ballantine, Royal Latin Director of Development

Read more about RLS fundraising stories here >

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