Over the past few years, King Edward’s School has developed an extensive outreach programme which aims to work with local primary schools to provide opportunities across the curriculum.
Over the past few years, King Edward’s School has developed an extensive outreach programme which works with local primary schools to provide opportunities across the curriculum. One part of this programme is to enhance these community lettings for local primary schools and to combine this with making excellent coaching resources available. The school's vision is for it to be at the heart of Birmingham’s education and sporting community, with a particular focus on breaking down barriers.
The school has extensive facilities which it only uses during afternoons, so it has been developing programmes to encourage local primary schools to make use of the pitches when they are not required by the school. This includes the offer of a free, five-week skills programme in rugby and hockey (cricket, athletics and rounders in the summer) delivered by skilled coaches and talented sports people who are already working with the school. This includes PE staff, who have played at international or professional level at hockey, rugby or cricket.
In addition to structured coaching programmes, the school also offers local primary schools free use of its swimming pool and athletics track when they are not required for PE lessons. Schools must provide their own transport and, for swimming, a lifeguard, but this is particularly popular in the summer for events such as sports days.
The school's facilities are also available for community lettings on evenings, weekends and in school holidays. They have also been used to host large events such as the Birmingham School Games.
- Sports hall – 4 badminton court-sized with cricket nets and climbing wall
- Swimming pool – 6 lanes 25 metres
- Extensive outdoor facilities including:
- Hockey all-weather pitch – with floodlights and pavilion with changing, showers, toilets and catering facilities
- 8 grass rugby pitches
- 4 cricket pitches
- 2 x pavilions with toilets and catering facilities
- 3 x outdoor changing rooms
- 7 cricket nets
- Multi-purpose enclosed all-weather pitch
- All-weather 6 lane athletics track (Redgra).
Types of community users
Community lettings take place on evenings, weekends and during the school holidays for organised groups, which mainly comprise of community sports clubs representing over eight different sports, including volleyball, squash and korfball.
Easter and Summer Activity Camps take place for children aged 4 to 17 years of age, and Birmingham Children’s Hospital also use the facilities on a regular basis.
In addition, the school also delivers an extensive free outreach programme during the school day to local primary schools.
King Edward’s also hosts a range of large events and competitions, such as Birmingham Secondary and Primary School Games involving over 800 participants.
Warwickshire County Cricket Club also makes extensive use of the school’s outdoor and indoor facilities. The club plays over 20 matches at King Edward’s each season for both boys and girls, from an Under 10s festival to the county’s 2nd XI. England A and Australia A cricket teams have also trained at the school.
Community use is managed in-house.
The lettings manager administers and manages paid lettings taking place outside of school hours.
The outreach director co-ordinates events and programmes taking place during the school day – mainly targeted at 140 local primary schools. This role has recently been supported by a part-time Administrator to marry up the availability of the facilities with the needs of local primary schools.
Both of these roles communicate on a regular basis with the facilities manager and site staff to ensure no security issues arise.
Making it work
The lettings manager deals with the administration and organisation of paid lettings and also assists the director of outreach to identify spare capacity to offer to schools for outreach (unpaid lettings).
King Edward’s School has developed strong relationships with their clubs who have been utilising the high quality facilities for a number of years. Lettings do not impinge on the school day as they only occur during evenings, weekends and school holidays. Safeguarding risks are minimised as the only community groups using the site at the same time as students are local primary schools taking part in the outreach programme, and they are supervised by their own teachers. The site is large enough for community groups to be on site and not mix with students.
The community programme also reflects the ethos at King Edward’s, which is to make an important contribution to the local community, rather than excluding them. This goes hand in hand with the school’s ongoing commitment to raise funds for assisted places: currently 30% of pupils receive some kind of financial assistance and 10% receive free places.
The vision for the future is to move away from an ad-hoc model and develop a proactive model where the school is flexible in the use of the site and proactive in engaging with the community. This will involve investment from the school to make sure the infrastructure is in place to support this model, including the recent recruitment of an Outreach Administrator.
King Edward’s is also in discussions with local companies to explore subsidised or sponsored transport service for the local primary schools, as transport costs can be prohibitive for them.
A key challenge has been developing community relationships. As an independent school, King Edward’s found that it was not always easy to make things happen with other local schools. Therefore, promoting their programmes by email or letter was not effective.
King Edward’s School has worked hard to develop a dialogue and relationship with the local community. By offering training days for teachers, and challenge days and competitions for students they have established themselves as an accessible venue providing high quality programmes.
King Edward’s is now in the fortunate situation whereby local primary schools are approaching the school about what they have to offer, and they now deliver activities with over 200 different junior schools.
Students of King Edward’s School benefit from community activity on a number of levels. The outreach programme provides opportunities for students to volunteer and develop skills as sports leaders, it also enables them to engage with their local community.
For example, Year 13 students after their exams have an opportunity to plan and deliver a three day multi-sports programme for five local primary schools. This provides King Edward’s students with an opportunity to develop their leadership and project management skills and widen their experience and responsibilities. This reciprocal arrangement also provides local primary schools with access to positive young male role models.
- Don’t underestimate the importance of building relationships within your community
- ‘Word of mouth’ and recommendations are the best way to promote and advertise your offer so consider how you can showcase your site and programmes
- It is important to have the right people in the right roles – for example the Director of Outreach is also a teacher who understands the outreach audience (colleagues in primary schools) but can also develop strategy and put this into practice.
Director of Outreach, King Edward’s School