1 Types of resources within and outside your school

Anything can be turned into an educational resource where it becomes the vehicle for learning through discussion, dissection, observation, comparison or experimentation. Of course, there is a financial dimension to the availability of resources: some will cost money and funds have to be found. But others may be freely available if only they are recognised.

Table 1 offers some different categories of resources that a school can use to create a richer learning environment. You may not have considered all of them as resources before. The following activity will invite you to review what resources may be available for your school.

Table 1 Categories of resources.
Category 1: People – teachers, students, parents, non-teaching staff, past students, staff in other schools, neighbours, sponsors, benefactors, experts in the community, etc.
Category 2: Living things – domestic and wild animals, birds, insects, reptiles, their habitats and herding spaces, trees, flowers, crops, fruits, vegetables, etc.
Category 3:School environment – indoor spaces, such as classrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, offices, corridors and laboratories; outdoor spaces; sources of heat, noise, light, etc.
Category 4: Classroom equipment – desks, chairs, blackboards, etc.
Category 5: Local environment – urban, rural, coastal, mountainous, climate, river, industrial, arable, etc.
Category 6: Materials - books, writing materials, posters, maps, games, maths kit, lab equipment, computers, mobile phones, art materials, tools, satellite TV, subject-related resources, artefacts, etc.

It is important that you look at the resources available in your school based on the Right to Education Act 2009 (RtE) under ‘The Schedule Norms and Standards for a School’, highlighting a number of aspects; namely, teachers, buildings, minimum number of working days or instructional hours in an academic year, minimum number of working hours per week for the teacher, teaching–learning equipment, library, and play materials, games and equipment.

Activity 1: What resources are available?

Choose a subject area or specific part of the curriculum (e.g. a topic that is taught) that you are familiar with. You may have an understanding of it from teaching it yourself or from observing the teaching of your staff. Ideally, work together with a member of staff or group of staff who teach the subject or topic, to give you additional insight into the resource issues. These staff may form a working group to complete activities with you as you will return to this audit at various points in the unit.

  • Using the categories in Table 1, identify the resources that are currently available and used to support learning. As in the example below, identify the category of resources and whether they are within or beyond the school grounds. Table 2 shows some examples of resources from different categories to get you going (the category number is given). For each resource, identify whether it is within the school or outside the school.
Table 2 Examples of identifying what resources are available inside and outside a school.
Resource Available within school buildings and grounds Available beyond school perimeter

Category 1: People

Shopkeepers nearby

Category 2: Living things

Vegetable patch and mango tree

Category 3:School environment

Sports field

Category 3:School environment

Blackboards in each class

Category 5: Local environment


Category 6: Materials

Internet café

  • Now think about possible resources that you could utilise for this subject or topic that are not currently used. Think carefully about what would be effective in supporting learning for this area and consider carefully human resources as well as materials (i.e. consider if any staff, students or parents could contribute effectively to this learning).
  • When you have completed your table, take another look at each of the resources and identify two resources that are perhaps not equally accessible to all your students. Put a star next to these resources just to remind you of this. You may, for example, note that the blackboards are so high on the wall that short students cannot reach to write on them, or that it is only the boys who play down by the river. Make notes in your Learning Diary of any inequities you identify, and think about how you could take account of this in your use of resources.
  • Finally, consider your list again and make a note of which resources are free (mark with a ‘’) and which require funds (mark with a ‘/Rs.’).


Identifying resources you currently use or have access to, and thinking about other possibilities and whether they promote effective, inclusive learning is an important first step in managing your school’s resources.

You will probably have identified that some are being utilised more effectively than others and you may have discovered some that you had not thought of as resources up to now. You will be using this useful list throughout the module and you may find it helpful to continue to work with particular members of staff to develop your understanding of their use of resources.

You will also have begun to identify inequity in access to resources. These inequities may be due to gender, income, home location, size, physical ability or other factors. It is important to use resources that are available to all, or to provide alternatives for those students who may be disadvantaged. It may, for example, be common for a computer to be grabbed by the boys in a class; the teacher therefore needs to address the gender imbalance by allocating the girls time on the computer and encouraging students to take responsibility for sharing more equally.

Funding of resources can be a problem. Many schools are lacking available funds to invest in resources, so it becomes important to concentrate on those resources (human and material) that are free. Raising funds to buy or pay for resources is often easier if the purpose and impact of those resources is made clear to funders (see Section 5).

What school leaders can learn in this unit

2 Identifying underutilised resources within and outside your school