The vision for the Trust is to “significantly contribute to the systematic improvement of education in England” and one of their objectives is to provide educational environments that contribute to community regeneration and are “places where students staff and local community are proud to belong; a place they feel part of and can make extended use of “.
Amington Academy opened in September 2010 as the second member of the family of schools. The academy opened in existing buildings of the former Woodhouse Business and Enterprise College and moved to a new purpose built accommodation in Sep 2011 (on the same site).
The Queen Elizabeth Mercian School was converted into Landau Forte Academy QEMS in September 2011. QEMS is housed on the existing school site which has since undergone some refurbishment with further upgrading of the site planned.
Landau Forte Academy Tamworth Sixth Form opened in September 2011 in a purpose built centre and serves the town of Tamworth. The centre delivers 34 A level courses as well as extensive enrichment activities including Sport, Music, Drama, Young Enterprise and Duke of Edinburgh Award.
QEMS Academy and Tamworth Sixth Form are located near to each other and will be sharing a new Sports Hall, Dance Studio and Climbing Wall (part funded by Sport England) which will be opening in September 2013.
The Landau Forte Charitable Trust has established Landau Forte Enterprises Limited to manage the community use and facility lettings across its sites.
Types of Facilities Accessed: Tamworth
|Amington||Sports Hall- 4 Court
Fitness Suite with 16 stations
Dance Studio with sprung floor, dividing wall and bleacher seating for 200
All Weather Pitch – full size floodlit used for football, hockey and boot camp training
4 tennis courts (recently refurbished)
1 netball court
Grass pitches including 1 full size and 2 half size pitches and cricket square
Conference and IT facilities
Male and female changing
All Weather Pitch - Full size floodlit and sand based used for Hockey and Football
25m indoor swimming pool
Small Gymnasium with wall bars etc let out for rugby clubs fitness training etc
Small Hall for fitness classes
Music performance area with grand piano and mirrors used for choir rehearsals, rock bands etc.
|Tamworth Sixth Form||
Dance/ Theatre Studio
Full size grass football pitch
Types of community users
The facilities are used by clubs and individuals as well as private businesses. The clubs cater for adults and children and include Rugby, Football, Hockey, Gymnastics and Trampolining. Individuals often book to play table tennis or badminton whilst the fitness suites are mainly used by parents and local residents. A wide range of private businesses have been attracted to using the facilities and regular bookings are made by: Zumba, Karate, Mo-Gility Gymnastics, Martial Arts, Kelly Kettlercise, NRG Street Dance, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley.
Students are often involved with the clubs; in particular Amington Diamonds FC and the Karate and Gymnastics clubs have large numbers of student members.
Landau Forte Charitable Trust employs a Marketing and Facilities Manager to facilitate Landau Forte Enterprises. This enables all facilities across the sites to be marketed and managed under the one ‘umbrella’.
The Marketing and Facilities Manager works in connection with each Academy and in particular the Business Managers who are responsible for the running of the Academy during the school day. The Marketing and Facility Manager’s role is to operate the facilities and market the Landau Forte Enterprises brand ensuring use of the spaces is maximised. This includes ensuring the facilities are utilised by a range of ages, and that the profile of users reflects all communities living nearby.
“Sixth Form Students are employed as Receptionists"
Duties for the Manager include customer viewings, preparing quotes, managing staff and technical requirements. The team also includes 4/5 evening receptionists who work 5.15-9.30pm Monday to Friday and weekends as required depending on events.
The Landau Forte Enterprise receptionists deal with day to day customer enquiries, accept payments and use the on-line booking system to record standard bookings (special events are dealt with by the Marketing and Facilities Manager). These Receptionists are recruited from Landau Forte Sixth Form (generally on an annual basis) and this helps the Students to gain valuable work experience before entering university, college or a working environment. In addition, a former sixth form student has also recently been recruited to work on a full time basis as an apprentice to support the Marketing and Facility Manager and also gain an NVQ in Customer Services.
The Enterprise Team is supported by Academy Site Staff who work on a rota bases in 3 shifts (the last of which is 2pm – 10pm). During the late shift, the Site Staff are involved in the safe running of community use at each site. Their community use role includes operating floodlights, setting up sports equipment for clubs and room arrangements, clearing pavements and opening and closing the building. They are all first aid trained and are ultimately responsible for the integrity of the building.
Making it work
Where the Landau Forte Charitable Trust has been able to create new accommodation, they have ensured the design promotes community use. For example, at Amington the journey from the car park to the sports facilities is all on one level. There is one reception area which is used by students during the day and community users from 5.30pm. There is a coffee bar facility which occasionally serves alcoholic drinks when hired out for theatre performances, but in general is used to serve hot drinks and sports drinks for community users. The changing rooms include coin operated lockers, and all the toilets are unisex.
Cost effective/Value for Money
Groups are charged a standard fee per hour to use a facility (prices can be viewed from the resource bank document). However, there is a preferential rate for clubs that use the facilities for 12 months of the year. The fitness suite offers to payment options - pay as you go or monthly membership. The income from community use covers the staff wages (apart from the site staff that are paid for from each Academy’s main budget). The Enterprise surplus is gift aided to the Trust and is used to subsidise classroom resources, and cover maintenance and wear and tear. The contribution provided from the operation of Enterprises comprises a valuable additional income, re-invested into students’ education.
The Landau Forte Charitable Trust ethos involves preparing students for the world of work, for example, Students wear ‘business dress’ and participate in a longer school day which includes enrichment activities until 5pm. This professional approach is reflected in the way the facilities are managed. Customers visiting the site comment on the fact that the building does not look or feel like a school and this is seems an attraction from a lettings perspective. The Trust have shown a commitment to delivering a professional community use programme by employing a full time post (which includes some evening and weekend work ) and recruiting someone from a commercial sales and marketing background. The Marketing and Facilities Manager role includes delivering targets agreed by the trust regarding user groups, income and usage of facilities.
The facilities are marketed under the Landau Forte Enterprises branding via the Academy websites. There is a downloadable facilities and information pack which includes a booking form (see resource bank). They also advertise the facilities in local papers, run charity events and write good news editorial for local papers.
Questionnaires are distributed to anyone using the building and there is also a suggestion box which is checked monthly. Suggestions are carried out if they are deemed appropriate, for example a community notice board was requested and this has now been installed and is updated on a monthly basis.
Internally, the main challenge is juggling Academy and community requirements. If the Academy requires a facility on an evening, such as for a theatre production, then community bookings are cancelled. It is made clear in the booking terms and conditions that educational requirements are prioritised, and that lets can be cancelled. Good communication is important to ensure a minimum of disruption and inconvenience to customers.
Externally the only real challenge so far has been the inclement weather, particularly regarding hiring the outdoor facilities. For example some clubs want to continue playing on the All Weather Pitch in bad weather such as snow; other clubs don’t want to use the facility and don’t want to be charged on those occasions.
“Providing real life experiences”
Additional Non-Financial Benefits
Community groups and clubs can be a great way to promote your Academy and improve foot flow through the building. Landau Forte Sixth form students are gaining valuable real life work from their reception duties for Landau Forte Enterprises. Some clubs using the facilities are also able to contribute to the Trust’s programme of enrichment activities offered to students during the curriculum. The Academy becomes part of the community, open all hours and used by all. Physical security is enhanced by regular out of hour’s public presence.
- Listen to your customers – gather feedback and if it is sensible, act on it.
- Set the goalposts early on with clear boundaries to enable you to balance community and school requirements.
- Employ a dedicated role to ensure community use is managed professionally and opportunities are maximised.
- Operate properly as a leisure business: professional staff, clean and well maintained facilities, catering, all correctly resourced and managed.
Laurie Marshall – Marketing and Facilities Manager
|Numbers: Five Academy Sponsor led Schools in the Midlands||Management Model: Management for a group of schools by the Academy Trust|