Generate income by letting out your school
In the face of budget cuts and the ever-increasing costs of running a school, head teachers are finding themselves asking: “How can we generate more income?”
One advisor is helping schools to generate additional revenue – an average of £40k annually.
Chris Smith, head of letting specialist Kajima Community, works with hundreds of schools helping them to open up their facilities for community use.
Chris said, “Schools facilities represent a vast and currently under-utilised resource in the UK. Opening up school facilities for community use has considerable benefits both for the schools and the local communities; not only does it support school and community cohesion, it can represent a potentially profitable revenue stream at a time of intense pressure on educational budgets.”
Groups who use the facilities – such as slimming clubs, community associations and sports clubs, can bring the whole community together. Hard-to-reach parents, young adults and the elderly alike will be invited into schools and engage with the wider community.
Income opportunity is too good to miss
It’s understandable that some head teachers may be wary of inviting the general public into school but Chris adds that the financial benefits are invaluable, adding, “Some schools have questioned the opening up their premises to the community fearing associated costs, but the baseline cost is low. In fact, community use can prove to be a rich revenue stream for schools, generating an average of £40k annually and some larger Greater London schools as much as £350k annually, which can be invested in new equipment, staffing or to offset existing budget deficits.”
A number of powerful proponents are currently lobbying for schools to be more open to the public. Sport England cites education sites as a key provider of sports facilities in England, owning over a third (39%) of all facilities: 77% of sports halls and 61% of artificial grass pitches are located on school, college and university sites.
And Chris has some words of wisdom should head teachers decide to take the plunge, advising, “The challenge when considering opening your school to the public is to ensure that best practice is followed. Be clear with the client about what is and is not acceptable behaviour in the school and convey your expectations about how rooms should be left after use – users should not have the run of the whole school. This starts with a ‘show around’ ahead of any confirmed first booking. Provide a dedicated point of contact to rationalise the associated administration. Finally, consider putting in place a transparent online booking system which provides clear information about external users of the school including when and where they have booked, and for what function.”
Finally, given that the valuable facilities within schools have been paid for with public money, is it the case that schools have a civic duty to make those facilities available for public use? As generating income becomes a priority for schools, letting is one avenue which should certainly not be left unexplored.