SHINE Grants Application Guidelines

Ready for School, Bridging the Gap & Flying High

SHINE grants provide funding to school-led projects of two to three years’ duration, which provide innovative solutions to the education challenges experienced by children from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds. SHINE grants support projects that can be evaluated for their impact on the educational attainment of disadvantaged children.

To reach our charitable aims, SHINE focuses grant-giving on two key priorities:

  1. Backing early stage ideas developed by teachers and schools, particularly focused on scaling approaches from the grassroots which often struggle to access funding from other sources. This means expanding our focus on Let Teachers SHINE and on our direct funding programmes for schools: Ready for School, Bridging the Gap and Flying High.
  2. Working together with others to solve some of the more intractable problems which hold back children’s educational outcomes, in particular looking to resolve barriers beyond the school gates. Through this theme, SHINE chooses specific parts of the North of England where we want to work on a proactive basis to solve a specific issue, in collaboration with other charities, universities and community groups.

In order to have the capacity to do both of these things well, SHINE no longer takes applications on a reactive basis, unless they originate directly from a practising teacher or school, as above.

Essential criteria

All proposals must:

  • be developed and led by a school, early years setting, Multi Academy Trust (MAT) or informal cluster of schools
  • meet our core funding priorities (Ready for School, Bridging the Gap or Flying High)
  • target children, schools and/or teachers within the North of England (the North East, North West or Yorkshire & Humber regions)
  • target children from low income homes: we use Pupil Premium eligibility as a general indicator of economic disadvantage
  • focus on raising academic achievement levels in core subjects (English, maths and science)
  • demonstrate some innovation over what is currently practiced – applicants need to show how their idea is different, or an improvement on what is currently practiced
  • be a sustained intervention (rather than a ‘one off’) which can show potential improvements in educational outcomes over time
  • be cost effective and offer value for money
  • have the potential to achieve measurable impact and have at least 5% of the total request ring-fenced to support evaluation costs
  • have a realistic plan for sustainability after the funding ends
  • can grow, scale or be replicated into other environments if successful.

We will look favourably on applications for projects that:

  • have some match funding in place, this could be ‘in kind’ funding from your establishment
  • work in collaboration with other schools or networks in your locality
  • have a clear plan for scaling or replication
  • have a clear plan for monitoring or evaluation (particularly a Theory of Change).

We do not fund:

  • programmes that take place outside the North of England
  • short-term or one-off projects
  • projects that don’t link to attainment and cannot be measured for impact
  • bursaries or any kind of student fees
  • direct replacement of statutory funding
  • capital build programmes for schools or other education institutions, including gardens, libraries, vehicles, or school/area refurbishments.

If you are outside the North of England but have a passion to support disadvantaged children in the North, we recommend you look at our alternative funding stream, our Let Teachers SHINE competition, which is run annually and offers grants to individual teachers working anywhere in England.

As well as funding, SHINE offers our grantees ongoing support with evaluation and adaptation to local contexts, as well as opportunities to work with our other funded projects and collaborate in a network of best practice and educational change across the North of England.

Our Core Priorities to 2025

Ready for School

Research shows that, by the time that students receive their GCSE results, around 32% of the variation in performance can be predicted on the basis of indicators observed at or before the age of five.1 Through our Ready for School fund, SHINE supports schools, nurseries, teachers and practitioners in areas of deprivation to better meet the needs of children and improve school readiness up to the end of reception year.

Under this theme, SHINE wishes to support programmes that improve the language and communications skills of children in the Early Years Foundation Stage. We are particularly keen to support applications that:

  • help schools and settings implement interventions to address communication and language skills in children in the Early Years Foundation Stage
  • improve the strength of partnership between schools and parents in the early years, and impact on the home learning environment
  • integrate development of language and communications skills with other attributes, such as numerical understanding or cultural capital
  • involve collaboration between schools and other early years providers
  • draw on the available evidence of what works in the early years.

Proposals may involve early years providers in the pre-school phase, or organisations that work directly with parents to improve the home learning environment. we particularly welcome applications based around primary schools, which work to develop best practice within school settings, or establish support and collaborations between school settings and parents/the home learning environment.

SHINE has already invested more than £1million in Ready for School projects across the North of England since 2017. We are keen to build a network of excellent early years practice throughout the North under this programme, so applications that can demonstrate a commitment to engaging with those already being supported by SHINE would be particularly welcomed. You can see a list of all the programmes SHINE has supported so far by visiting our interactive map.

Transition Priorities

The evidence shows2 that the transition from primary to secondary school presents particular challenges to children from disadvantaged backgrounds. SHINE has identified two key priorities for projects working across this transition phase.

Bridging the Gap

Too many disadvantaged young people in the North of England who have not met Age Related Expectations at primary school fall further behind when they first move to secondary school. Through our Bridging the Gap fund, SHINE is interested in supporting these students to make better academic progress during their first few years at secondary school, providing them with the opportunity to continue to progress to GCSE and beyond.

Flying High

Evidence shows that children from low income homes who are high attaining at the end of primary school can struggle to attain the top grades at GCSE, despite having the academic potential to do so. Through our Flying High fund we are interested in supporting projects that recognise and nurture the academic potential of these students and support them to achieve the very best grades during KS3, which will ultimately prepare them for study at GCSE and beyond.

  • under these transition themes, SHINE wishes to support applications that:
  • support improved academic progress in maths, English and/or science in Years 7 and 8
  • involve collaborations between primary and secondary school teachers, to promote curriculum and pedagogical continuity
  • improve information and practice sharing between primary and secondary schools
  • support schools to develop more inclusive practices for children during the transition from Key Stage 2 to 3, to help reduce exclusions and promote better academic progress during this phase
  • improve the strength of partnership between schools and parents in the first few years of secondary school and draw on the available evidence of what works to support children in the transition from Key Stage 2 to 3.

The next steps

Our process

SHINE is a ‘hands-on’ funder and we are happy to advise and support grantees as they develop their proposals. Our deadlines for applications are usually around the end of April each year; successful applicants have generally been in contact with SHINE for at least one or two months prior to these deadlines.

Please read our Frequently Asked Questions for further information about SHINE funding. If you have an idea which you think may meet our funding criteria, please use the Enquiry Form on this page to submit a basic outline detailing the following points, in no more than three or four paragraphs:

  • an overview of the project and its aims, specifically related to academic
  • attainment in maths, English or science
  • how it would meet SHINE’s core priorities
  • the number of beneficiaries and schools it would reach
  • the overall project budget and size of request to SHINE.

If you have any further questions or would like more information, please get in touch at or call us on 0113 280 5872.


1 State of the Nation Report, Social Mobility Commission, November 2016.
2 KS3: The Wasted Years, Ofsted, September 2015.