Cowplain Community School

Cowplain Community School (CCS) has historically hosted a strong adult learning programme which was delivered on site by South Downs College

Due to government funding cuts, the service was gradually reduced and the school began to look for an alternative delivery mechanism.

In 2005, CCS became a Business and Community Specialist College and transformed an old Caretaker’s house into a Business & Conference Centre.

In 2007, the school recruited a Business and Community Manager to develop their work in this area, and later in the year the team grew to include 2 part-time Community Assistants and a part-time Finance and Administration role. The Business Centre houses an ICT suite, conference facility and meeting room from which the Business and Community team have developed the family and adult learning courses and community links.

Strong support

Over the last 5 years, the school has increased the number of community programmes offered and developed relationships with a range of clubs and organisations, seeing their community income grow from £24,800 in 2006/7 to £82,200 in 2011/12. This has only been possible due to strong support from the Headteacher, Senior Leadership Team and Governors.

As part of the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme, CCS developed a Strategy for Change which articulates their relationship with the local community and desire to become an important local resource. A consultation process was carried out with current and potential users and a site survey assessed the condition and appropriateness of their existing facilities. Although the BSF funding was cancelled, the school have continued to develop a Master Plan, outlining facility improvements that would also benefit the community. The school converted to an Academy on 1st April 2012, and community use continues to be an important part of the school’s vision. They are also striving to be recognised as a key sport and leisure provider in the area and to become integral to Havant Borough Council’s Leisure Strategy.

Facilities

The school is committed to ensuring all areas of the school can be made available for community use, but recognise that there are some physical limitations to the current facilities. These include:

Sports Hall - 4 badminton court sized
All Weather Pitch (AWP) – Full size, floodlit 3G (part funded by the Football Foundation) which has significant usage
Multi-Use Games Area (MUGA) - 3 Netball Court Sized and floodlit (part funded by the Big Lottery Fund)
Gymnasium - 2 Badminton court sized (end to end), the old gymnasium is in a separate location on the site which means it has limited appeal
Main Hall – mainly used for presentations
Business Centre Conference room (for 30 people), meeting room, and ICT suite- used by private businesses, for coach education sessions and club meetings etc
General Classrooms
Dance Studio – a converted drama studio with dance matting, mirrors and barre
Changing rooms -2 sets, each accommodating approx 15 persons situated near to the sports hall
Storage – limited capacity
The Business centre also has a small facility for making refreshments.

Type of community users

Each year, over 95 different clubs and groups use the facilities at Cowplain Community School, encompassing grass roots to excellence, with a good mix of male and female, junior and adult, able and disabled clubs established at the school.

There is a dominance of football clubs (over 45 different football clubs have used the school site) and this is due to the full size all weather pitch which is utilised to its full capacity and has been unparalleled in the local area. The school host a good range of football clubs including Cowplain Youth FC who on average attract over 200 young people every Saturday. Arsenal Soccer School (Hampshire) train on site, and Portsmouth Saturday League fixtures are also hosted by the school. Local football cup finals have also taken place at CCS during the last two years and the school is used for referee training, sports leadership training and coach education courses. 

The Indoor facilities are mostly booked on an annual basis by a range of groups and sports clubs including Waterlooville Police, Hurstwood Rangers Youth FC, Cowplain Youth FC, Cowplain Netball Club, Portsmouth FC in the community, and for organised recreational Badminton. Occasional “one-off” bookings are also made by a variety of community users including the Girl Guides, Portsmouth Volleyball Club, Cowplain and Purbrook Table Tennis Club and Portsmouth and Southsea Fencing Club. 

Havant Athletic Club use the Sports Hall, Gymnasium, grass athletics track, long jump and throw areas. The club is an important partner to the school and they have an annual service level agreement (see resource bank below) which lays out expectations on both sides including how the club supports the curriculum on enrichment days. 

The school day finishes at 2.30pm and a programme of after school activities run between 2.30 and 4.30pm. The school are committed to continuing their extended services programme (even though it is no longer a government priority), and have an Extended Services steering group. For example, the school part fund a Community Police Officer, who is also a National Judo Coach and runs an after school club. In addition a successful family and adult learning programme is run by the school and part funded by Hampshire Learning, this includes courses in Netball, Dance and Archery. 

The school also run a successful Outreach programme working with partner schools, Havant Borough and Hampshire County Council. This included a table tennis programme which was delivered at local primary schools and the nearby community centre with CCS providing the equipment and sourcing an International Table Tennis Coach.

Management model

Community use is directly managed by the school through a small but proactive Business and Community team. During the daytime and term time evenings the Site Supervisor deals with caretaking issues. During weekends and school holiday evenings this is then taken over by the Community Assistants. Their role is also to promote activities and manage relationships with community groups and users. The Business and Community Manager (who is from a Local Authority Leisure background) reports to the Headteacher and has a strategic role, building relationships with partners and representing the school as a community champion.

Making it work

Making it work

Community use runs from 5pm – 9.30pm weekdays (10am – 9.30pm during school holidays) and 10am – 5.30pm on weekends (the closing times are dictated by the planning conditions of the floodlighting for the AWP). The Business Centre does have some community use during the school day, and this works because it is in a separate building with its own parking and access.

Financials

In order to cover the costs of ‘wear and tear’, cleaning and utility bills associated with community use, an agreed fee is paid from the community budget to the central school budget. 

Any excess community income is fed back into a renewals fund to invest in equipment and the facilities. The team are aiming to break even on community use, but the school acknowledge community use brings with it added educational and wider benefits.

“..the school acknowledge community use brings with it added benefits”

Every year the Business and Community Team carry out an assessment of rates for community use across other venues to check the school facilities remain competitively priced.

There are 4 different rates for community users: A commercial rate, adult rate, junior rate and development rate. The development rate is for targeted activities that are mutually beneficial to the school and community user. Community groups are charged a month in arrears and commercial organisations are charged a month in advance.

Contracts and Agreements

There is an annual agreement with every annual hirer which includes a booking form and a one page agreement regarding CRB checks, insurance and qualifications. With key partners like Havant Athletic Club this is taken one step further with the service level agreement which provides an extra level of comfort regarding fees that will be charged and what services will be provided in return (both by the school and club). 
Community groups accessing the school facilities must work to Hampshire County Council guidelines and have an up-to-date CRB check in place and must be able to evidence relevant qualifications. The school holds public liability insurance that covers users for community bookings. Commercial hirers are required to hold their own appropriate insurance cover.

Design

The current school design poses some constraints on community activity, particularly regarding capacity and adjacencies. The main changing rooms are too small for community use which means, for example, that referees have to use the sports hall or classrooms to get changed. There is additional changing near the gym but this is rarely used as the location is distant from the other facilities (most current community users come ready changed). The dance studio is a low budget in-house conversion (dance matting has been laid over a concrete floor) and does not fulfil the community demand.

The Master Plan outlines aspirations to improve the standard and size of the changing rooms, storage facilities and dance studio and to upgrade the athletics facility provision and create a ‘club hub’ area. Most of the sports facilities are clustered together (Sports Hall, Changing, AWP and MUGA) which are an advantage. Efforts are taken to make community use facilities visible and easily accessible from the adjacent road.

Marketing

The small Business and Community team are able to provide a personalised service and engage in frequent dialogue with community users. Regular evaluation of business and adult learning courses are carried out and surveys are used to gauge feedback from current hirers. The facilities are marketed through a designated section on the school website and through flyers and leaflets designed by the small community team and some of the school’s Students. The team also regularly submit press releases to local papers and send emails to parents, partner schools and through the council networks. 

The Business and Community Manager identifies partnership opportunities and represents the school at Havant Sport and Physical Activity Alliance, Havant Skills and Employability Partnership and Havant Learning Forum as well as communicating with Council Members and the County Sports Partnership.

Main Challenges

Whilst the school strives to make best use of current school provision, the limitations of the facilities are one of the key challenges that the school faces. For example, there is a demand for further exercise and dance sessions but these cannot be accommodated in the current facility arrangement. Also the grass pitches are poorly drained and remain boggy for a high proportion of the year and this has an impact on the outdoor sports clubs, in particular, the athletics and football provision.

The school also recognise that the capacity of local clubs is a challenge and would like to develop a supporting role through the creation of a ‘club hub’ to provide clubs with resources in training and improving quality standards. This would, in turn, have a direct impact on the school and their relationship with clubs. The school are proactive in making opportunities happen, but finances remain an issue and a significant capital investment would make a huge difference.

Benefits

Cowplain Community School recognise the added value community use can bring with it, such as improving the health and self esteem of students. Anecdotal evidence from the Headteacher identifies a link between academic achievement (in particular in mathematics) and some of the community programmes. 40 young people taking part in a Judo Club with the Community Police Officer were targeted due to their poor attendance and lack of engagement in education. The sessions have been used to improve their motivation and confidence and change their attitude to authority figures.

“There has been a decrease in levels of vandalism”

Community use has also increased opportunities for students in terms of the variety of programmes they can access. Fencing, Archery and Volleyball were all introduced to the school through links made with clubs and with the support of Sport England “Sport Unlimited” funding. School facilities have also been improved due to the renewal programme funded through community use income.

There has been a decrease in levels of vandalism on the school site since the school extended their opening hours, and the family and adult learning programme has improved parent/child relationships.

The Business and Community team deliver a range of regional competitions and tournaments throughout the year and these have provided a useful positive showcase for future students who attend the events. It is estimated that two annual football tournaments attract around 4,000 adults and children to the school each year. A number of these attendees are prospective future students or parents.

Top Tips

  1. Clarity of vision - there should be a Community Vision which is shared by the whole school.
  2. Champion for Community use – there needs to be someone whose role it is to always push things forward.
  3. Collaborate – you can only do so much on your own, you need to build capacity and utilise the sporting networks that exist.

Contact details

Geoff Lawton – Business and Community Manager
Email: geoff.lawton@cowplainschool.co.uk

www.cowplainschool.co.uk/

School Profile

Type: Academy Converter Gender: Mixed
Age range: 11-16 Size:1098
Location: Suburban/ Rural, Waterlooville Hampshire Community Users: 50,000 per year (approx.)
Management Model: Direct management by school

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