20 Tips #2: Funding

Welcome to MiSP’s series of 20 Top Tips for 2020. We have gathered together the 20 questions we are asked most often and, using a decade’s worth of experience in delivering mindfulness in schools, plus the experiences of our mindfulness community of more than 5,000 trained teachers, we provide the answers!

#2: How can I fund mindfulness in my school?

Training to teach MiSP curricula costs an average of just £6 per pupil if, over a period, you teach it to 120 pupils. Below we consider how you can fund this, looking at existing funding in your school and other sources of funding.

The Challenge

A report published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in September 2019 found that total school spending per pupil in England fell by 8% in real terms between 2009-10 and 2019-20.

Whilst government funds have been allocated to reverse this fall and return school spending per pupil in England to 2009-10 levels by 2022-23, this means there will be no actual growth in spending per pupil in real terms.

And whilst real term funding is not growing, school costs certainly are. Resource challenges, to name just a few, include:

  • Retention and recruitment costs, particularly in secondary schools
  • Year on year increase of pupils with special education needs (SEN)1
  • An increase in the number of children living in poverty – now affecting 1 in 3 children – with sharp rises in child poverty forecast for coming years2
  • An increase in average class sizes as pupil numbers have grown with, in particular, a growing number of pupils of secondary age3
  • Changes to exams4
  • Changes to Ofsted with a new Education inspection framework now in place5
  • Year on year increases in the number of referrals to specialist children’s mental health services (with rejection rates remaining high), with long waiting times to receive treatment6
  • An increase in the number of children looked after by local authorities, with looked-after children numbers now over 78,000 children7

To summarise? There are conflicting demands on your school budget, so mindfulness must compete for funding. Here are some ideas to hopefully help you release some resources:


Existing funding in your school

Core Delegated Funding

Your school receives the dedicated schools grant which has no strings attached to it in terms of how it may be spent. The school budget will need to reflect your school improvement plan (SIP), which your Governing Board and Senior Leadership Team are accountable for. They will need to be able to demonstrate how state funds have helped meet statutory requirements, raise student attainment, and delivered best value for money.

In terms of funding mindfulness in your school, there is a strong case that our mindfulness curricula meet core elements of statutory requirements:

  • From September 2020, relationships and sex education (RSE) and health education will become compulsory in applicable schools in England. The first two paragraphs of the Department for Education guidance on these subjects point directly to our curricula: “1. To embrace the challenges of creating a happy and successful adult life, pupils need knowledge that will enable them to make informed decisions about their wellbeing, health and relationships and to build their self-efficacy. Pupils can also put this knowledge into practice as they develop the capacity to make sound decisions when facing risks, challenges and complex contexts. Everyone faces difficult situations in their lives. These subjects can support young people to develop resilience, to know how and when to ask for help, and to know where to access support. 2. High quality, evidence-based and age-appropriate teaching of these subjects can help prepare pupils for the opportunities, responsibilities and experiences of adult life”. Any expenditure on mindfulness training for school staff will support your school’s delivery of RSE and Health Education requirements and you can make a case that our curricula should be on your school budget.
  • From September 2019 the new Ofsted education inspection framework judges: quality of education, behaviour and attitudes, personal development and leadership and management. The introduction of mindfulness into your school, for both your pupil and your staff, can positively impact all four judgement areas and you can collate evidence to demonstrate this. Our Class Impact Reports are a good start but you can also refer to other relevant statistics over a period of time to show the impact.

In both cases you need to make a business case for SLT and the Governing Board, showing how the introducing and embedding mindfulness in your school supports the school improvement plan, meets statutory requirements and guidance, helps student attainment and delivers value for money. The benefits of mindfulness across school performance are broad, and you can tailor this summary of research findings written by Professor Katherine Weare to make a compelling case applicable to your school’s particular circumstances.

Pupil Premium Funding

Pupil premium funding was introduced in 2011 to allow schools to help disadvantaged pupils by improving their progress and the exam results they achieve. The sums of money paid to schools vary depending on whether the school is primary or secondary and which category the pupil comes under. The standard rate of Pupil premium 2019/2020 for primary schools is £1,320 for every qualifying pupil, and for secondary schools is £935. Pupil premium plus, where a pupil has spent time in local authority care, is £2,300 for any age pupil.

It’s up to school leaders how pupil premium is spent. Schools are held accountable for how they spend the pupil premium so they need to have a spending strategy that is as effective as possible, ideally demonstrating low cost interventions that are also highly impactful. In June 2019, the Education Endowment Fund published their Guide to the Pupil Premium which recommended a 3-tiered approach to pupil premium spending:

  1. Teaching should be the top priority, including professional development, training and support for early career teachers and recruitment and retention. There is growing evidence that mindfulness benefits teachers and can reduce their stress, improve their wellbeing and increase their performance. This report from 2015 will provide evidence to support spending pupil premium funding on mindfulness for staff: https://mindfulnessinschools.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Evidence-for-Mindfulness-Impact-on-school-staff.pdf
  2. Targeted support for struggling pupils should also be a key component of an effective Pupil Premium strategy. MiSP curricula is designed as a whole class curriculum rather than a specific intervention which can provide support to struggling pupils alongside their peers in a class setting.

Schools are required to evidence the impact of the interventions they introduce. This means:

  • Ensuring there is a pupil premium Action Plan which will detail how spending will improve progress, at what cost, over what timescale and what measurements will be used to evidence outcomes. This needs to be approved by the governing board as part of the wider strategy and as part of the whole school development plan (SDP). There is no reason why mindfulness can’t feature on your SDP.
  • Collecting relevant data to monitor and evaluate the impact of mindfulness on pupils. Our charity provides Class Impact Reports so that you have data to evidence the impact of our curricula. In addition, you can analyse other measures of progress which you collect such as attainment and progress data, absences, behaviour incidents, referrals, etc to support your case. Details of Class Impact Reports can be found here: https://mindfulnessinschools.org/hub/class-impact-presentation/
  • Understanding the cost per pupil. To train a teacher from scratch to deliver MiSP mindfulness curricula costs just £665+VAT (.begin then Teach Paws b for primary) or £840+VAT (.begin then Teach .b for secondary). If a teacher just teaches 30 children, the cost per pupil is on average £25 which makes it an inexpensive intervention. However, we know that on average our trained teachers teach over 120 children each. At an average cost of just £6 per pupil, there is a compelling case for mindfulness as an efficient and effective use of pupil premium.

PE and Sport Premium (primary schools only)

Many professional sports men and women use mindfulness to improve their performance. There is a case that mindfulness can be introduced to children as part of their PE and Sports learning, and thereby be funded by the PE and Sport premium available to primary schools.

The PE and Sport premium is used to fund additional and sustainable improvements to the provision of PE, physical activity and sport for the benefit of pupils aged 5-10 to encourage the development of healthy, active lifestyles. Schools receive £16,000 plus £10 per pupil, which cannot be spent on employing coaches or specialist teachers, teaching the minimum requirements of the PE national curriculum, or any capital expenditure such as PE equipment.

Schools must publish the amount of premium received, how it has been spent, the impact the schools has seen on pupil’s PE and sport participation and attainment, and how the improvements will be sustainable in the future.

The Department for Education guidance identifies key indicators that schools should expect to see improvement across which include:

  • The engagement of all pupils in regular physical activity (at least 30 minutes per day). Mindfulness can be practised as part of PE and sport via mindful movement: mindful walking, sport, even free-running/parkour are all excellent activities to practice mindfulness in.
  • The profile of PE and sport is raised across the whole school as a tool for whole-school improvement. Where mindfulness can be embedded across the school it will raise the profile of lessons which include mindfulness practice – which can be any subject, including PE and Sport.
  • Increased confidence, knowledge and skills of all staff in teaching PE and sport. Mindfulness is used by elite athletes to improve their focus, notice how their bodies are feeling, notice their thoughts about their performance, and anchor themselves in order to be able to achieve their very best. If all staff are informed about, and ideally trained in, mindfulness, they will have a better understanding of how to encourage higher achievement in PE and Sport from their pupils.

As with Pupil Premium, schools need to document the rationale for spending some of their PE and Sport premium on mindfulness and track data to evidence greater pupil participation in PE and sport. But we believe there is a strong case to use PE and Sport premium for mindfulness.

Staff training and continual professional development (CPD) budgets

Sadly, many schools no longer have general staff training or CPD budgets and amounts available per staff member vary greatly across the UK. If your schools still funds staff training, you can make a case to train to teach mindfulness by tying MiSP training to your School Improvement Plan. A recent report by the Teacher Development Trust found that CPD is linked to improved results for pupils, plus better staff morale and retention. Add this to the many benefits of mindfulness for your school community and you have a good case.

Parents’ and Friends’ Associations

Increasingly, parents are funding crucial elements of school life. The charity Parentkind’s parent survey in 2019 found that parents are regularly asked by schools to make financial donations as well as voluntarily raising money to support their schools. The survey also showed that parents prioritise a curriculum which develops responsible citizens and good mental health and well-being, and we know of examples where the PTA has funded a staff member or volunteer to support bringing mindfulness to the children. You can approach your school’s parents’ or friends’ association for funding, presenting a clear case highlighting the benefits of mindfulness: for the children, for the staff, for the whole community, and the value for money and how it fits within the school improvement plan. You will also need to ensure you have the support of the SLT and, ideally, the Governing Board so that this initiative is supported throughout the school.


Other sources of funding

There are a limited number of other sources of funding which might provide grants to cover some or all of the costs of training adults to teach mindfulness to children and young people in schools.

MiSP Supported Places

Our charity provides Supported Places to UK schools on many of our training courses. We currently assess applications for Teach Paws b and Teach .b on the level of free school meals, pupils with SEN support and pupils with English as an Additional Language at your school. Please make an application using the form on the Supported Places page.

MiSP Early Career Support Fund

MiSP now offers financial support to teachers in the early stages of their careers to learn mindfulness for themselves and train to teach it to children. Applications will be welcome from all UK schools and awards made on a first come first served basis to individuals within four years of achieving Qualified Teacher Status. Find out more and apply here.

Joint bids for funding – apply with MiSP!

Our charity is very happy to try to support applications for grant funding and can make applications in collaboration with individual schools, groups of schools or community groups to bring mindfulness to children in your area. We can only do this where the initiative is supported by SLT and where there is a commitment to provide curriculum time to mindfulness within the school day. Please contact enquiries@mindfulnessinschools.org if you would like us to help you pursue this.

Approaching other funders

Whether you approach a national or local grant funder or a local business, you will need to have a good case to put before them, outlining:

  • The background and need for the expenditure (why you can’t pay for it yourself)
  • How it will benefit the school (be specific) and over what timeframe
  • How you will measure the benefits
  • What it will cost
  • Evidence of support from stakeholders: SLT, parents etc
  • What the funder will get in return –public acknowledgement of the funding on your website and across your social media is a good start

It costs just £665+VAT (.begin then Teach Paws b for primary) or £840+VAT (.begin then Teach .b for secondary) to bring mindfulness to the children in your school from scratch…

For many local businesses this is an affordable amount. You can write a letter explaining what you are aiming to do and how much you need to raise and hand deliver it to local businesses inviting them to be part of a local funding coalition. Face to face explanation with business owners or budget holders is often the best tactic. If you can get one local business to agree, often this is enough to persuade others to join too.

Your local library should have a copy (or you can request it) of The Directory of Social Change’s Directory of Grant Making Trusts where you can find national as well as local grant funders. Education is well supported by many trusts and foundations and it is likely you can find support from somewhere provided you tailor your application to their funding priorities. You can also do an internet search for grant funders in your local area.

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1. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/814244/SEN_2019_Text.docx.pdf
2. https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/app/uploads/2019/02/Living-Standards-Outlook-2019.pdf
3. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/812539/Schools_Pupils_and_their_Characteristics_2019_Main_Text.pdf
4. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/timeline-of-changes-to-gcses-as-and-a-levels/changes-to-gcses-as-and-a-levels-that-will-affect-each-current-school-year-group
5. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/801429/Education_inspection_framework.pdf
6. https://epi.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/EPI_Access-to-CAMHS-2018.pdf
7. https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/850306/Children_looked_after_in_England_2019_Text.pdf