Posted on 21/07/2020
The Value - By Brendan Gilmore, chair of the FBS Foundation
Living the Values through Covid-19
We and the boys repeatedly hear about the values of the FBS - Boys, Faith and Enterprise - and so we should as it helps to keep everyone focussed on them.
These values have been core to the school's response to the extraordinary challenge presented by Coivd-19.
• FBS has remained open throughout while other schools closed
• The physical school pivoted to become a virtual one providing lessons and learning online
• The sports department set challenges to keep the boys active
• Contact with the boys was maintained through online form time and phone calls with the Heads of House
• Teachers and other school staff gave up their holidays
• Vouchers were provided to families to maintain the provision of free school meals
• A foodbank was set up by FBS staff and support was provided to another foodbank in the area
• Enterprise week went online
Many students across London and beyond have not had it so lucky and many will have fallen badly behind as a result.
So I think it's fair to say that FBS practices the values it preaches - but what about the value we get from the school?
The school isn’t perfect, but we need to recognise that it is not a lavishly funded multinational corporation with the staff and resources to do everything perfectly, every time.
It's a school. It's our school, and it needs and deserves our support.
I look at the value we get in two ways - the direct value and the indirect value.
Direct value comes from FBS's aim to provide our boys with an education consistent with the best private schools:
1. Small class sizes - no more than 24 pupils
This means the boys are well known to each other and to each teacher so their individual needs can be catered to.
2. Best in class staff recruitment and retention
This means lessons can be consistently delivered by dedicated professionals committed to school over the long term.
3. School ends at 5pm
This means our boys get to experience interesting and diverse co-curricular activities.
It also means working parents do not have to arrange a variety of after school paid-for activities or childcare to bridge the gap.
4. Enterprise activities
This means our boys being prepared for the real world, the transition to it, and being instilled with the ability and confidence to shape and change things when they get there.
It's little wonder that the school is massively oversubscribed.
In addition, to me, my son being at FBS means:
1. Staying in Fulham
We don’t have to move away from Fulham, a place I love and have called home for 18 years, to find the right school. No relocation costs or stress.
2. A short commute
My son has a short journey to and from school, so more often than not, we get to have breakfast and dinner together as a family.
No school bus costs, more quality family time and crucially, longer, better quality sleep.
3. Local friends
Local school friends means meeting up outside school hours and during holidays is so much easier – whether to play football in the park, to come over to play on their consoles, or to go for lunch or the cinema.
Better still it means parental taxi driver duties are limited or can be shared around!
4. Being part of the fantastic school community
It's easier to get to school events, interschool competitions and sports fixtures meaning we can support our boys. We get to meet other parents and enjoy what the school and its community has to offer. I love the international food fair.
Some of the above are priceless, some save us significant amounts of money, but some come at a price.
Who pays the price?
The FBS Foundation exists to generate the funds necessary to pay that price.
The Department of Education provides about 90% of the money required to run the school and the Foundation looks to raise the rest to deliver the extras.
In the coming academic year, 10% is equal to c. £520,000 or c.£720 per boy per year or £60 per boy per month.
It breaks down roughly as follows:
£240k for smaller class sizes
£130k for the additional staff related costs
£100k for the longer school day
£50k for Enterprise activities
To date, the primary source of the additional 10% funding has been voluntary donations from the boys' families - but the amount raised has consistently fallen short of target which means that the extras that FBS offers are under real threat.
Unless we can increase what the Foundation raises, some difficult decisions will inevitably have to be made.
Are we all ok with larger class sizes? Higher staff turnover? School finishing at 3pm?
Since taking over as Chair of Foundation in December last year, I and the team have sought to broaden the fundraising base - and we are making steady progress across grants, commercial income and a campaign for individual and corporate donations and sponsorship - which will help us towards our target of £800,000 per year - but donations from families who have chosen to send their boys to school remain key to delivering the value we all get by having FBS on our doorstep.
In this part of the world, we're a bit uncomfortable talking about money, and even more so asking for money, but ask we must.
45% of families already give generously, and for that, the school is sincerely grateful. The average is £55 per month per boy but donations range from £5 to £850 per month per boy.
55% of families don't currently contribute.
Almost 30% of our boys qualify under the pupil premium scheme so it's natural that not every family can afford to give and that is absolutely fine.
Around 20% of pupils come from private primary schools.
One of FBS's undoubted strengths is that it is non-selective - so every boy has a chance to get in and every boy has the same opportunity when they get in. Every boy has a chance to learn and grow in a diverse environment, which can only be a positive for the future of our society.
The Foundation's ask
Everyone who accepted a place at FBS signed up to the Founder's vision to create a school that would rank in the top 10 in the country. By delivering that vision, every boy benefits. The vision can only be delivered if every family that can, plays their part.
The Foundation's ask is as follows:
• To the families who already give generously, but who may be in a in a position to increase their donations, please do.
• To the families who can afford to donate and for whatever reason to date haven’t, please start now.
The link to take action is here: Donate
Giving / giving more allows classmates, teammates and friends, whose families cannot afford to donate, to benefit from the same excellent education and bolster their life chances. It's an opportunity to have a lasting impact on your local community, now, and long into the future as the boys develop and grow into men.
Over the course of the coming weeks, families will be hearing directly from the Foundation seeking your support and I would be very grateful if you could give the email your full attention.
You'll also all receive a link to the school's digital magazine which sets out opportunities for people and businesses to support, sponsor or engage with the school - so please read and share it with anyone you believe may be interested getting involved.
We're always open to ideas and offers of support at the Foundation, so please feel free to get in touch.
When you’re deciding how, or even whether, to respond to the Foundation's messages in the coming weeks, all I ask is that you reflect on the value we get from FBS.
Chair - FBS Foundation