An investigation of fundraising in English primary schools

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Due to a decline in government funding since 2010, English primary schools are increasingly required to generate additional income through fundraising. This study generates new knowledge of the issue by investigating fundraising activities at a primary school based in the East of England. It explores the school’s income generation strategies, whilst also considering the values and experiences of those involved.

The study adopts a qualitative research approach, incorporating individual interviews, a focus group discussion and documentary analysis. Purposive sampling was employed to select participants with a knowledge of the process, including the headteacher, a governor and several members of the Parent and Teacher Association (PTA). The data analysis approach was influenced by Braun and Clarke’s (n.d.) reflexive thematic process, which offers both flexibility and rigour.

The findings demonstrate that current government funding levels for English primary schools are insufficient, thus resulting in an ongoing need for fundraising to reduce pressure on budgets. Those involved in school fundraising hold both positive and negative views of the process, with a notable frustration regarding the lack of government support. Yet despite this dissatisfaction, the social aspect of fundraising is considered to be highly valuable. Unfortunately, not all schools are able to benefit from such related activities, raising concerns about inequality.

The findings generate suggestions for further research on grantmaking,
fundraising roles, spending and inequality. With the financial situation likely to worsen in the short term, there is also a requirement for co-ordinated lobbying to further challenge the UK government on current funding levels for English primary schools.
Date of Award2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Southampton

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