A recent survey completed by 1,182 school leaders from mainstream schools revealed 4 out of 10 schools are now letting out buildings to generate additional income to balance their budget. This entrepreneurial activity spans everything from hosting weddings and on-site nurseries to language schools and fitness classes. Schools are successfully securing additional funds, reportedly as much as £300,000 a year, from parents, neighbourhood businesses and the community at large.
Stuart Pywell, Head of St Stephen’s Junior School in Canterbury, Kent, commented:
“Schools have to look at themselves as businesses, the leaders as entrepreneurs who think creatively about what opportunities they can capitalise on.”
School sports facilities
With Sport England reporting that 77% of all the UK’s sports halls and 61% of its artificial grass pitches are located on school, college and university sites, education sites have been identified as key providers of sports facilities in England. In fact they own over a third of all facilities with over two thirds of school sports facilities already available in some form of community use. Establishments are actively promoting wider use of school sports facilities to capitalise on a demand for more sport, more often.
Amazing community hubs
Nigel Deacon discusses schools that are becoming amazing community hubs, making sport and leisure facilities genuinely accessible to all at a reasonable cost and generating considerable income that can be reinvested in improved or additional facilities.
‘I am fascinated by the resourcefulness of education establishments who are evolving to meet the needs of the wider community. Under ingenious and insightful leadership, schools, colleges and universities are identifying manifold opportunities from purpose-built facilities; cleverly meeting the needs of their villages, towns and cities, not just their students.’
A brilliantly simple exercise
‘It makes sense. In many communities, rural and urban, there simply isn’t the commercial opportunity or available funding to build dedicated sporting facilities. Opening up existing educational sports facilities to the public during evenings, weekends and holiday periods seems a brilliantly simple exercise in meeting a demand, with minimal outlay, and generating significant revenue in the process. Taking a longer term view, if some of this revenue is re-invested back into improving and developing sports facilities, maybe with the addition of an all-weather sports canopy, the pupils benefit and even greater funds can be realised.’
‘De Montfort School, a state school located in the market town of Evesham, Worcestershire, with a population of less than 24,000, is just such an example. Tapping in to a demand for sport that initially focused on tennis and netball courts, the school has strategically established itself as the convenient go-to-facilities for these and many other sports. Identifying an opportunity and meeting a need, the school has re-invested funds back in to improving their facilities and now runs a dedicated sports centre website offering a wide range of sporting activities including 5 a side football, futsal, badminton, basketball, hockey, netball, short tennis, table tennis, volleyball, archery and handball.
While De Monfort School’s lucrative sport centre offer could well be beyond the reach of many educational establishments it does demonstrate what a school can achieve.’
Dedicated letting services
‘If you have the facilities but simply lack the available resources to effectively rent them out you can relax. Many companies, like School Lettings Solutions, aware of the opportunities and issues surrounding community use of school facilities, operate dedicated letting services that hire out school facilities during evenings, weekends and school holidays.’
Galvanising your community
‘Imagine how your sports facilities could help your organisation evolve into a pivotal hub; instrumental in providing more sports and recreational activity for all and galvanising your community in the process.’
‘If you are interested in exploring the untapped potential of your existing or intended sports facilities please get in contact and we would be delighted to offer our professional insight and expertise as all-weather shade and shelter specialists.’