This week on the SLIC blog Project Officer Louise Cooper talks about the School Library Improvement Fund. The fund is now open for applications.

It’s really exciting to observe the projects from the last round of SLIF gaining momentum and getting underway. Watching from afar and seeing them come to fruition is fantastic. It’s even more exciting that schools have this opportunity again and I will shortly be reading more proposals – seeing the resulting projects come to life in 2020.

With each round of the fund more and more quality bids are being submitted, covering secondary schools, primaries and nurseries across the country. Interestingly, there are also some amazing links being formed between school libraries and local communities, colleges, universities and external companies. A lot of these links would never have been formed if it was not for the opportunity to apply for SLIF and that makes it even more worthwhile.

Innovation & Sustainability

With the fund now open, it’s a good time to highlight some points for consideration. The funding panel are always looking to fund projects that are innovative, sustainable and show good value for money. There are some fabulous examples of projects that have developed working links with other schools or external partners. These links, and the legacy that is left behind, can only benefit young people in a community year after year. These projects demonstrate really good value for money as so many people benefit.

Remember that your local authority key contact has the job of vetting all the bids from their authority and submitting the two strongest. Of course, we will accept any number of collaborative bids (working with schools in a different local authority or external organisations), so this gives another good reason for having those external project partners on board.

Collaboration & Communication

Another thing to consider is to work with neighbouring schools. If you collaborate and develop a bid together you aren’t then competing against each other to get one submitted – you could work in clusters, authority wide or with schools that already have an established working relationship. The benefits of reciprocal working cannot be underestimated and again the links that can be formed in a community can leave a long-lasting legacy.

Communication is key – make sure you know who your key contact is in plenty of time, talk to them and ask them for support. They may know of other schools thinking about a similar project and can link you up. Check if they have a local closing date prior to SLIC's closing date to allow them time to review applications and sign the forms. They might suggest minor changes allowing for a stronger application being submitted.

A SLIF Legacy

Read the guidelines carefully and visualise your project before putting pen to paper. The planning of the project is the most important part of the process. Try to think through all eventualities and plan for them. When filling out your form, write about your project. Let the panel get a real feel for what the project is about, who will be involved, how it will fit into your school community and the benefits that it will bring. Also think about how it will be sustained in the school so that it has a long-lasting impact.

Good luck with your bid writing – I am really looking forward to reading them in a few weeks!

* Got a few questions about the School Library Improvement Fund? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions Page or read more on how to apply.