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Funding for secondary schools & sixth form colleges

Funding for public engagement with science organisations


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 and have an overall outcome of ‘Good’ or above
  • be able to demonstrate an achieved level of excellence OR significant progress towards excellence through, for example, inspection reports and progress made by students
  • 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.

In assessing the excellence of a school or college we will also take into account its local context, including deprivation measures and previous Wolfson support in the same region within the last five years.

    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 and VAT
    • 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 or college 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 both the Chief Executive of the MAT (if applicable) and the Headteacher of the school or college 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.

    We are only able to take forward up to 20 schools or colleges each funding round and as such the Stage 1 application process can be particularly competitive. Your application will be assessed according to (1) the eligibility and level of excellence of the school or college; (2) the eligibility of the proposed project; (3) the timescale for fundraising and undertaking the project. The strongest proposals will be invited to Stage 2. We work with educational data specialists SchoolDash to support this process.

    Stage 2:

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

    Stage 2 applications are assessed by an expert Panel, who make recommendations to our Trustees. If our Panel have any queries, they will be in touch.

    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 programme is 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.


    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 – £50,000 (equipment projects)
    £15,000 – £100,000 (new build and refurbishment projects)

    Match funding required:
    If total project cost is >£1million, 50% match funding is required

    If total project cost is between £50,000 and £1million, some matched funds are required

    If total project cost is <£50,000, no match funding is required

    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