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Funding for secondary schools & sixth form colleges


We support high-achieving state-funded secondary schools and sixth form colleges to improve the teaching of science, computer science, design & technology, art, languages, music and performing arts at GCSE and A-Level. Grants are generally awarded towards new builds, refurbishment and technical equipment.

This information does not apply to special schools, which should apply under our funding for special needs schools and colleges.

The school or college should meet all of the following criteria:

  • be state-funded
  • have at least two years of exam results available
  • have been inspected by Ofsted / Estyn / HMIE / ETI
  • be able to demonstrate an achieved level of excellence OR significant progress towards excellence through, for example:
    • inspection reports
    • progress made by students
    • proportion of students participating in higher education
  • if a predominantly denominational or faith based school, it should have a non-discriminatory entry policy in respect of religious allegiance or at least 10% of pupils must be of other denominations, faiths or none.

The project must cost at least £15,000 and also aim to produce one or more of the following outcomes:

  • Improved quality of teaching and learning spaces for subjects which require specialist laboratories and technical equipment
  • Increased numbers of students taking these subjects
  • Improved learning outcomes for students taking these subjects

Other programmes that may be of interest

Not eligible for this grant? You may be able to apply for these alternatives:

What we don't fund

Examples of ineligible projects and costs include:

  • Musical instruments
  • General auditorium refurbishments
  • General IT infrastructure
  • Library facilities 
  • Purchase of land or existing buildings (including a building’s freehold)
  • Grants direct to individuals
  • Grants through conduit organisations
  • Overheads, maintenance costs, VAT and professional fees
  • Non-specific appeals (including circulars) and endowment funds
  • Costs of meetings, exhibitions, concerts, expeditions, conferences, lectures, etc.
  • Salary costs
  • Running costs, including vehicle fuel and maintenance
  • Film, websites or promotional materials
  • Repayment of loans
  • Projects that have already been completed or will be by the time of award

How to apply

If the applicant school is a member of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), the application should be submitted by the MAT. MATs are only allowed to submit one application each funding round. In other cases, applications should be submitted by the school or college itself, not a fundraising body.

We run a two stage application process.

Stage 1:

Stage 1 applications are submitted online, via our online portal for applications. Please note you will need to register an account before starting an online application.

Information that we need at this stage includes a brief description of the project, including the total cost, the current funding shortfall and the proposed timetable. It is important that the application comes with the full backing of the institution and a cover letter signed by the Chief Executive of the MAT (if applicable), Headteacher or equivalent should accompany the submission. View the list of questions asked at Stage 1.

If your organisation is a Sixth Form College, audited accounts for the past two years should also be submitted with the online application. The accounts provided should relate to the ongoing underlying operating activities of the organisation itself and not a related fundraising arm or charity. We undertake a financial appraisal of all applications, and you may be asked by our Head of Finance to respond to specific queries. 

If your Stage 1 application is successful, we will invite you to submit a Stage 2 application.

Stage 2:

Stage 2 applications are submitted via our online application system and by invitation only. Unless otherwise agreed, we require that any necessary planning permission is in place before submission of your application.

Stage 2 applications are sent out to expert assessors and if they have any queries, they will arrange a telephone call or visit to the School at a mutually convenient time. Applications are then considered by an expert Panel, who make recommendations to our Trustees.

If you've applied before

If we have previously awarded your school or college a grant, we are unable to accept another application until five years have elapsed since the date your last award was offered. This is because our programmes are over-subscribed and we want to support as many schools and colleges as possible. You should therefore ensure that the project that you apply for is your priority capital project over the next five years.

Schools that are a member of a Multi-Academy Trust (MAT) should apply through their MAT. MATs are allowed to submit up to one application each funding round and the five year reapplication waiting period applies to the school within the MAT, not the MAT itself. If a MAT has multiple schools they are considering for an application, they are welcome to phone the grants team for advice.

If you have been turned down at Stage 1, you are allowed to submit a new application for the next funding round. If your application was turned down because our programme was over-subscribed and not because your project was ineligible, we are willing to accept an application for the same project again but would encourage you to check that the application still meets our eligibility criteria before submitting. Otherwise, please ensure that your new application meets our eligibility criteria and if you are unsure, you are welcome to phone the grants team for advice.  

If you have been turned down at Stage 2, you should wait until at least one year has elapsed before submitting a new application for a different project.

We do not normally consider the same project twice, whether or not funding was awarded.

When to apply

We run two funding rounds each year. The key dates are:

Round 1
Open to Stage 1 applications: 1 December
Stage 1 application deadline: 10 January
Stage 2 application deadline: 15 February
Funding decision: June

Round 2
Open to Stage 1 applications: 1 May
Stage 1 application deadline: 10 June
Stage 2 application deadline: 15 July
Funding decision: December

If a deadline date falls during a weekend, we are happy to accept applications that arrive by 9am on the following Monday.

Grants are not made retrospectively, and so your project must be ongoing at the time that a funding decision is made (i.e. June or December).

Background and case studies

Need to know

Who can apply:
State-funded secondary schools and sixth form colleges

Location of applicant and project:
UK only

Funding covers:
New build, refurbishment and technical equipment

Minimum grant amount:

Usual grant range:
£15,000 – £100,000

Match funding required:
No but if project cost is >£50,000, some matched funds are preferred

Decision dates:
June and December annually. Projects must not be completed before a funding decision is made

Wolfson funding programme:
Secondary Education

Ready to start application?

If you have checked you are eligible and understand the application process and timescale, you can start your application

Returning to your application?

If you’ve already started your application and are looking to return to continue the process, you can do so here

Contact us

Please contact us if you have a question about applying

Call: 020 7323 5730