As the Leisure Centre was built on school land, it was agreed that the school could have exclusive access to the centre from 9am-6pm weekdays.
About 5 years ago, the new Head teacher decided community use would be managed in – house by the school. However they still continue to have a good relationship with the leisure trust. The majority of community bookings currently take place weekday evenings – weekend bookings are only taken for an all day event.
Offering a safe and secure environment for women in the community
In their 2011 Ofsted report the school’s engagement with their community was highlighted as an outstanding feature:
“The school benefits from productive partnerships with a variety of institutions which have had a highly positive impact on outcomes for students. The impact of the specialism both in school and in the local community is outstanding. This area of the school’s work is particularly well-led and there is a determination to use sport to engage and inspire students to achieve their potential”
This has resulted in Students having a good understanding of factors that affect their health and a large majority participate in some form of extra-curricular sport.
Dance Studio - Purpose built with sprung floor and mirrors used by the community for belly-dancing dance sessions etc
All Weather Pitch – 85 x 52 (not full-size) floodlit until 9pm with a multipurpose surface mainly used for football and some hockey and tennis.
School Hall – used for fitness classes such as Zumba and once a month by the Women’s Institute (which fits in with the school’s Well Woman Trust activities)
Hair Salon and Beauty Therapy Room - used by the school to teach Business Administration but they are also exploring how this could be let out to the community.
The School use the Sports Hall and Fitness Suite at Urmston Leisure Centre. Students access the facilities by walking across their own sports field, and using the designated rear entrance and external changing facility.
Type of community users
Women are the main target audience for the school’s community offer. In partnership, they have established Flixton Well Woman: which serves all their young women in school, their parents and women in the community. Services include personal health, sexual health, emotional well being and managing relationships etc. The Trustees are Manchester Metropolitan University, The Outward Bound Trust, Trafford Community Leisure Trust and Trafford Council.
“...we have developed productive partnerships”
The school are in the process of renovating a building on site which will be used as new sixth form block but also plan to house a nurse and counsellors there as part of the Well Woman Trust offer.
‘Get Fit for Spring’ is a Flixton Girls’ community programme aimed at KS3 students and their Mothers/Carers. Participants embark on a 10 week programme of one hour taster sessions in a variety of sports including netball, badminton, walking and running plus gaining nutrition advice. Consistent attendees are rewarded with 1 month’s free membership of the fitness suite at Urmston Sports Centre. This programme helps to build relationships between mothers and daughters who say they don’t do much together, and the aim is to roll it out into the community via local primary schools.
The All Weather Pitch is mainly used by football clubs. The school have a good relationship with a Junior Football Club who have students playing for them and use the facility free of charge for 10 weeks of the year to teach coaching and refereeing (with school students benefiting from the training). Flixton Girls’ School are also trying to develop their relationship with a local hockey club.
High 5 Junior Netball through Trafford Netball Development Officer will also be running sessions at the school. Again the school will be lending indoor and outdoor facilities for free recreational netball but with a view to developing a netball club for the north of the borough.
Trafford Council Sports Development team are also working with the school to help them to develop a community offer during a ‘dead time’ between 4 and 6pm.
The school manage community use in-house, employing a full-time Community and Enterprise Co-ordinator who liaises with customers and deals with bookings. A Site Manager works evenings and provides security, opens and locks up, turns off floodlights etc. and sits on the community reception desk to deal with any issues.
The School Games Organiser / Assistant Director of Specialism is the primary school liaison and also works on community elements and drives the specialism.
Bookings are taken using software called ‘booking pro’ which generates invoices that the school finance department can then follow up. The Community and Enterprise Co-ordinator liaises with the site evening staff to ensure any issues are addressed. Cleaning is carried out by the school’s own cleaning staff and this is built into the school cleaning rota. The grass pitches and AWP are maintained by an external company.
Community charges are reasonable priced and cover the cost of the site manager, maintenance and lighting. The school are not aiming to make a profit but to build upon and develop junior and female activities.
Making it work
The vast majority of users have their own public liability insurance, for those that don’t 10% is added to the hire cost and they then fall under the schools insurance. The school work closely with the Community Leisure Trust who assist them in developing relationships with clubs.
Having designated Site Staff on duty for community use works well, but is costly, this however is still a better option than a ‘key-holder’ arrangement where clubs let themselves in.
The security operates on a fob system so that the main school can be locked off and the sports facilities isolated for community evening use. There is a toilet facility in the community reception area which is very useful; unfortunately the school don’t offer any community changing at present.
- Marketing - Promoting the facilities properly is something that the school acknowledge they need to get better at. Funding the initial outlay for marketing material is a barrier but in the meantime they are planning to make improvements to the information available on the school website.
- The weather –the school may decide to close a facility due to bad weather to protect the users and the facility, but sometimes the community user disagrees that it should be closed and this can cause some friction.
- Maintenance becomes a bigger issue as the AWP gets older, they have considered upgrading to a 3G or 4G but this would limit use and they would like to continue to offer a multi-purpose surface for Football Hockey and Tennis.
The ethos of Flixton Girls’ school is to serve the community – it is not about making lots of money but more about being a focal point in the community. The school provides facilities for free to some groups and in return students benefit. For example, Students have access to coaching and refereeing courses run by the Junior FC and the Local Authority Sports Development Team have used the facilities and in return helped run the mother and daughter sessions and provided the school with a loan of dance mats.
- Gaining access to local clubs is about building relationships such as with your local authority sports development team
- Some partnerships are about seizing opportune moments but some need researching
- Establish what you have to offer – what is it that makes you unique or special to community users and vice versa? For example hosting the WI opens the school up to a new audience that might include potential mentors for students and business women who can offer work experience opportunities.
Rachel Redmond – Assistant Director of Specialism & School Games Organiser
|Type: Academy Converter||Gender: Girls|
|Age range: 11-16||Size:1000|
|Location: Inner city, Trafford, Manchester||
Community Users: 12,750 per year
|Management Model: Direct Management by school|