Most school and college buildings are empty and redundant for vast swathes of the year. Holidays, evenings and weekends see your building either entirely empty or with only a handful of staff present completing their own work in isolation. Here are some ways to ensure facilities increase value for money in schools and colleges by creatively operating outside school hours.
Same Resources For Different Audiences
You may already be providing some of these services and gaining income from them – sporting facilities being rented out is a classic revenue stream for schools – but there are lots of other features to an educational building which the local community would be willing to pay to use.
If you explain that the revenue generated is going to a good cause, such as, more teaching and learning equipment or towards an upgrade in furniture or facilities, it is more than fair to ask for a contribution from those who pay to use your facilities.
Here are some of the different demographics and interests that you can invite to use your facilities. And, remember, you teach using specialist equipment in all sorts of areas and these are often things that the adult community might want to try their hand at too or, alternatively, use as cheap access to specialist space or equipment (such as rehearsal space for musicians).
Drama, Dance and Art Space
Your hall, theatre rooms or art space are all valuable commodities that you should be able to make contribute to revenue streams outside of school hours.
Amateur dramatic societies and Youth Dance/Theatre groups normally run on restricted budgets. If you can hire-out your facilities to them for a mutually agreeable rate, it helps to also build links into the community. If your space is sitting empty, there is nothing lost by offering hourly rates which generate even the smallest of profits once you deduct administration costs and unlocking and then securing the premises.
In fact, all of the ideas in this post do this, but it also helps boost student numbers and enrollment. Parents and their children become engaged with your building and see how it’s a positive experience to be there. You are automatically a well advanced choice when it comes to choosing where to study.
Particularly in semi-rural or less metropolitan areas, a school may be the only place available for musicians to practice their craft. You can also hire out your cooking, music and art spaces to teachers (or run this yourself) who can conduct lessons in your dedicated music space. A simpler way is to allow bands to rehearse in your empty rooms where they will not be disturbed – or disturb others – because the rest of your building isn’t in work mode anyway.
Societies Or Groups
Local book clubs and poetry societies often need a place to meet and discuss their literature and poetry. Or conduct their workshops. Your school library or English classrooms are the perfect venue. The environment is already suited thanks to the displays and decorations your teachers will have erected and, if the poetry society conducts writing workshops, they’ll be interested in using your space.
Welcoming these groups into your fold is also a good way of stretching and challenging your most able students, exposing them to wider reading and other well-read opinions, which will benefit their studies.
Another possible area of people to target to hire your space to meet (be it your school library, canteen or meeting rooms) are local societies and clubs. Bridge groups, sewing groups, rambling societies, puppy training… all sorts of different societies and groups take place in our towns and cities, but they often meet at places which aren’t actually ideal or exclusive to them. Typically, these are local public houses or members’ houses. You can offer a dedicated, secure and private space which, if arranged properly, can even offer all the facilities they may need.
Your building can become the equivalent of the old village hall that used to be available to hire.
Fitness And Sporting Facilities
You may well already have an artificial pitch which is available to hire. That is often a requirement of grant money to install one. But there has been a rise in recent years of less traditional sports and exercise techniques and groups, which your facilities are perfect for.
Parkour and free running classes are rising in popularity and you could host them at evenings and weekends (just be sure to ensure insurances and waivers are in place). But “boot camp” and circuit training classes are on the rise as people lead ever busier lives and need a structured environment to efficiently exercise in a directed class. Again, your sports and assembly halls are the perfect place and will work out much cheaper for personal trainers and users to attend than an actual gymnasium.
The Business Community
Whilst the other ideas we have suggested targeting are private social groups who tend to meet weekly or fortnightly and can therefore offer a regular revenue, it is likely to only be small.
A group who may use your facilities less frequently but will have much more money available to spend is the local business community.
Networking events, evening meetings or workshops, team building sessions, conventions and even trade shows need spaces like yours. If any of your governors, parents or partners have contacts in this field, utilise your large spaces for their next large event and give yourself a little windfall from helping facilitate it.
Look to build contacts with the companies involved in your careers events and approach the council to see what kind of boards and institutions of businesses are in your area, what events they have planned and which ones you can maybe host. Again, selling the fact that the end result of a school revenue is improved teaching facilities and resources.
A quick mention to adult learning. Evening and weekend classes in TESOL or modern foreign languages are likely to have a potential audience in your community, as are GCSEs. They don’t take up much of your facilities as they can even take place in your meeting room near reception rather than having to open up the whole building, for example.
But they aren’t the only adult learning area you can tap into to increase your value for money from your school building. OAP technology and ICT classes, music lessons and revisits of classic subjects and texts in a slightly-formal environment are all popular with many adults with a thirst for knowledge.
Is Your Building Ready For This?
You might like the sound of some of these ideas, but you’re put off from showcasing your building to the outside community because it is in need of a refresh in decoration. Or, in fact, it may need some more substantial work doing to make it attractive enough for outside groups to pay to use your facilities.
We have put together a completely free and non-obligation school refurbishment guide which looks to help you decide what kind of work your school may or may not need, squash any common fears you may have and help you achieve budget sign off.