Schools are turning to crowdfunding to help them find the cash needed to experiment with new technology.
Rocket Fund, thought to be the UK’s only crowdfunding platform aimed at teachers, enables schools to raise donations for projects costing up to £1,500. As the site went live last week, schools were hoping to acquire equipment including music software, virtual-reality headsets and robotic Lego.
The crowdfunding pages can be shared via social media. But, unlike similar cash-raising platforms, donors receive a thank-you letter rather than rewards for their contribution.
The scheme is dependent on people to donate out of goodwill, but it has already attracted criticism from those that feel sufficient funding should be provided by the government.
This week, the National Audit Office warned that standards were being put at risk by education funding cuts, with schools expected to save £3 billion by 2019.
Andrew Morris, head of pay and pensions at the NUT teaching union, said: “We’re one of the world’s richest countries. Schools should not have to go cap in hand like this to parents, and now to the public. The government needs to improve their funding instead of planning to cut it in real terms.”
But Helen Goulden, executive director at innovation charity Nesta, which set up the site, denied that it set out to plug any government funding shortfalls.
She said: “Rocket Fund is about giving teachers more freedom to innovate and experiment with new things that they think will make a difference to how their pupils learn.
“The idea is to empower teachers to try new things. If what they try works out well, it will make it easier for the school to justify including it in their budget the following year.”