Mike Haslin, Chief Executive Officer at TUCO, The University Caterers Organisation, discusses how to achieve value for money in these unpredictable times
Opening the door to different revenue stream
Research shows that many school and academies are opening up their doors to the community in order to raise much needed funds. Education Business investigates this trend
Forty-two per cent of school leaders surveyed by the Key last year said that they let out their school’s buildings and facilities to generate extra revenue, with ten per cent saying they had set up an on-site nursery. Others cited hosting weddings and even using qualified staff to provide fitness classes to the wider community to raise funds.
As one headteacher at a primary school in Kent explains: “Schools have to look at themselves as businesses, the leaders as entrepreneurs who think creatively about what opportunities they can capitalise on. As well as setting up day-care provision and paid-for breakfast and after-school clubs, we also rent out our school hall most nights of the week for anything from church groups to weddings, birthday parties or language schools.
“All in all, our initiatives bring in between £200,000 and £300,000 a year and this gives us choices - choices that aren’t made for us by government. It’s amazing what you can achieve with some creativity, passion and willpower.”
The Department for Education’s Governance Handbook states that accommodating extended and community services can ‘enable schools to make the best use of their facilities, which may otherwise be underused before and after the school day and in school holidays’.
Sport England, which has a handy resource guide called ‘Use Our School’, believes that a positive presence on site after school hours can improve community cohesion and be a way of reducing the risk of out of hours vandalism and anti-social behaviour.
Being seen as a community hub also provides a way of developing wider school links, such as with local leisure centres, youth services, police and community clubs. This can reinforce your profile and as an important local asset provider and will promote community safety.
With many school buildings incorporating state of the art sporting facilities, it makes good commercial sense to open these up for community use. Indeed, schools can apply for National Lottery funding from Sport England if they open their sports facilities to the public.
Cardinal Heenan Catholic High School has impressive sports facilities including a 3G All Weather Pitch, a dance studio and multi-use hall. Previously, the local authority managed the facilities during community hours. But in 2013, the school was looking for a means of sustaining its sports college activity, and the local authority was looking to downsize its leisure services portfolio. In a mutually agreeable arrangement, Cardinal Heenan took over the community use management of their sports facilities, and has lead the school to see financial rewards.
Many schools have also opened up their catering facilities to the public.
Exhall Grange Specialist School in Coventry opened a new café, which is ran by students to give them careers experience, as well as revenue to the school.
The café is based in an old school kitchen that has been completely transformed thanks to a £40,000 Skills for Employment grant from Warwickshire County Council
Charlton Manor, who won the Education Business Catering Award this year, also opens their catering to the public. The school chef runs the school café, which is open to parents and the community every day before and after school and on Saturdays from 10am–2pm. They serve food made from fresh produce which is grown in the school garden and community garden, as well as eggs from the school hens and honey from the school bees.
Estimates by yourparkingspace.co.uk (www.yourparkingspace.co.uk) suggest that if each school in England was to rent out two parking spaces from Monday to Friday, for six weeks during the summer holidays for £7 a day each, then it would raise £10.5 million. It claims that this is the equivalent to the annual salary of 467 new qualified teachers.
With many schools close to public transport or local amenities, their parking facilities are an asset that should be used.
Yourparkingspace.co.uk managing director Harrison Woods said: “Cash-strapped schools in the right locations are potentially sitting on a parking goldmine. With budget restraints hitting hard on the public purse strings, this could be the ideal way to earn additional revenue from land that is effectively vacant for six weeks or more.
“And when you consider how many thousands of schools there are across the UK, then this potentially equates to hundreds of thousands of spare car parking spaces in July and August which could be a rich source of income.
“Many schools are located in urban areas and close to town centres and railway stations, making them ideal for car owners looking for somewhere cheaper to park than a traditional car park.”
St Richard Reynolds Catholic College in Twickenham, London, has raised over £2,000 by renting out their spare parking spaces when there is a rugby match on at the nearby stadium. The school charges £15 per space per day, which is half the price of the official stadium parking.
Advice from Sport England says that it is important to be fully aware of your potential income and likely expenditure
Once your community programme is established with a sustainable business plan that includes an appropriate pricing policy, it is possible to generate income over and above covering your costs, which can then be used to renew and develop your sports provision.
Jake Collin, access to schools manager from Liverpool City Council, shares some advice: “Set realistic income targets – remember some facilities are used seasonally, and don’t assume maximum occupancy levels and maximum hire rates.”
Sport England also urges schools to understand what type of community use is best for the school and its vision.
Developing a vision for community use will help your stakeholders (including staff, students, governors, parents and community partners) understand and support your community programme.