School Lettings Solutions

School Lettings Solutions (SLS) was established in 2012 by Paul Andrews and Scott Warrington, who have more than 16 years' combined experience of working in schools and managing community lettings programmes

School Lettings Solutions is the largest provider of a dedicated school lettings service, working nationally with more than 200 schools to hire out their facilities to the local community during evening, weekend and school holiday periods.

SLS employs more than 800 members of staff and works with established groups of in Greater London, the Midlands, the North East, North West and Yorkshire/Humber.

To provide support to schools, SLS has an operations director and operations team, school leisure and sport managers/assistant managers and regional managers, plus dedicated teams of staff working at individual schools.

SLS has worked with the NSPCC to shape its safeguarding policies and won best business serving sport at the 2017 Sport Business Awards.

Download the School Lettings Solutions brochure

Types of community users

Schools working with SLS:

Name of School:

Haggerston School

Type:

Community school and sixth form

Size:

1,000

Local Authority:

Hackney

Annual No. of Community Users:

1,750 per week

Location:

Hackney, London

Facilities SLS Manage:

Floodlit all-weather pitch, outdoor courts, sports hall, gymnasium, main hall, dance studio, drama studio, dining room, meeting room, classrooms

Types of Community groups/ users

Various community sports clubs (e.g. football, American football, karate), health and fitness sessions, private coaching businesses (e.g. football, multi-sports), church groups, language schools, music development trusts, youth clubs, choir groups.

Name of School:

Kingsmeadow Community School

Type:

Secondary Community (PFI)

Size:

600

Local Authority:

Gateshead

Annual No. of Community Users:

1,500 per week

Location:

Gateshead, Tyne and Wear

Facilities SLS Manage:

Floodlit all-weather pitch, floodlit MUGA, sports hall, theatre, drama room, dance studio, fitness suite, meeting room, classrooms

Types of Community groups/ users

Various community sports clubs (e.g. football, rugby, netball, hockey, korfball, kickboxing, basketball), dance and drama groups, health and fitness sessions (e.g. piloxing, personal trainer sessions, yoga), private coaching businesses (e.g. Brazilian Soccer Schools), adult and community learning courses, local businesses for casual sports bookings.

Management model

SLS are one of a number of private sector companies offering a community use management service to schools. The key features of the SLS model are:

  1. The school remains in control. They decide which of their facilities they want to be made available for community use, and what sort of groups can/cannot use the facilities. For example, one school have stipulated no faith groups or celebration events. The school are also able to shape the programming of community activity and retain relationships with any priority groups or clubs. For example, at a school in Rochdale they had recently introduced parkour to the PE curriculum, which was gaining a lot of interest from students. SLS ensured that they accommodated a parkour, after school and community club within the community programme as requested by the school.
  2. The school work in partnership with SLS to develop a bespoke model, for example, SLS advise on facility prices but the school agree the pricing policy. The school work with SLS to develop a Lettings Development Plan and set income targets.
  3. There are no costs to the school – SLS manage the hiring out of the facilities and employ/pay their own staff therefore there is no cost outlay to the school and no set up costs. The school then receive a split of the profits from which they cover any additional utility and maintenance costs.

Making it work

Staffing

SLS has a group of regional managers and manager/assistant manager teams managing the lettings of programmes of their partner schools at a local level.

Nationally there is also an operations team (dealing with HR, payroll, health and safety, safeguarding etc.) and a marketing and communications team.

Every school is allocated a school leisure and sport manager to work with them at an operational level.

Their role is to manage the website enquiries and online bookings, market and promote the school's facilities on a daily basis, put the casual staff in place and manage the rota.

They liaise with the school and are the first point of contact if the school have any questions or issues. They visit their schools regularly and liaise with the school business manager, PE staff etc. and provide report/booking details to the school.

Their role is also to network in the local community and develop partnerships - for example they will work with the local authority sports development officer and will also look for local groups to programme into the facility.

“Your Lettings are a reflection of your school"

Each school is serviced by a team of casual community sport and leisure assistants employed by SLS. The community sport and leisure assistant's role is to prepare the facilities, set up equipment, sign groups in, and clean and tidy up (leaving the school as they have found it). Equally, they have a customer service role and will check with the site and lock up, they each have a 'lone working device' to keep them safe on site.

Bookings

For every partner school SLS develop a website to promote their community facilities with an online booking and enquiry service which is managed by the school leisure and sport manager. Groups making bookings must sign up to SLS terms and conditions including safeguarding and insurance requirements.

Programming

SLS will honour existing arrangements with a club or group to maintain good will. For example, one school offer a preferential rate to a trampoline club that supports the curriculum. Another school has a reciprocal arrangement in place with a cricket club who give the school free use of their cricket ground in return for access to the sports hall in winter. The diversity of programmes depends on the school's location and facilities, generally a high percentage will be sport and leisure sessions, although some schools are more suited to events, conferences etc. One of the SLS schools in London doesn’t have a sports hall but their lettings are primarily local community groups using the school for meetings, courses and conferences etc.

Marketing

SLS invest a considerable amount in marketing community lettings. Both the Operations Team and the Marketing and Communications Team provide expertise including maintaining a website and social media (Facebook, Twitter etc.) on behalf of the school. Each school is provided with promotional banners and flyers are printed and distributed regularly along with a community newsletter. New community groups/clubs are offered a free flyer to promote their activity, a service SLS offer free of charge.

Contracts

A three-year agreement is put in place. SLS clients include a PFI school where they have been able to negotiate a three-way partnership with the FM provider and school to ensure FM site management charges are not prohibitive. SLS are also familiar with managing school sites with externally funded facilities (such as Football Foundation funded 3G pitches) which have conditions of use attached to them.

Operating Safely

All SLS staff are DBS checked. Community Groups have to sign up to SLS safeguarding terms and conditions and must sign in each time they arrive on site. SLS staff observe sessions and speak to parents on a regular basis to gain feedback, as well as using lone worker technology to ensure they are safe when working on-site.

Main Challenges

  1. Trust – schools are sometimes cautious of an external provider and find it difficult to handover their keys to a third party.
  2. Bad experiences – if a school have had a negative experience of a third party provider in the past this can make it difficult for SLS to establish a dialogue with them.

Benefits

  1. Low risk option due to no costs, the company directors having a back ground of working in schools and a 12 week get-out clause.
  2. Utilising external expertise to develop your community programme.
  3. Schools can focus on their main business of education.

Top Tips

  1. Go and visit examples of schools using external community management companies
  2. Do your research and understand the market – speak to three different companies don’t just approach one.
  3. Take a holistic approach, don’t just limit yourself to what you can currently achieve, but think about community use in the broadest sense.

Contact details

Scott Warrington – Managing Director

Email: info@schoollettings.org

Tel. 0330 100 5470

www.schoollettings.org

Please note there are a range of private sector partners available and Sport England do not endorse any particular company.

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