The school has a strong association with Liverpool Harriers Athletic Club, Liverpool Collegiate Rugby Club and Sefton Park Cricket Club.
In 2002, St. Margaret’s approached the local authority to access the New Opportunities Fund in order to capitalise on their sporting successes. The school sits in between two local authority Leisure Centres (approx 2 miles away) but identified an opportunity to provide a specialist facility. St. Margaret’s is fortunate to sit in large grounds and earmarked an area of their site to build a new Sports Centre with Cricket as a priority sport.
The school consulted on their proposal with Cricket Clubs across Merseyside and over 30 Cricket Clubs attended a meeting at the school and confirmed their support for the project. Questionnaires were also sent out to the local community. This process confirmed that a specialist Cricket Centre would be welcomed in the area as long as it was not an elite venue (the school sits in between two long established, high-ranking Cricket Clubs). To ensure the Centre prioritised Cricket it was agreed that at certain times the hall would be ring-fenced for Cricket use only.
As a voluntary aided school they were able to raise £1m using grants with a 10% Governor’s contribution and received £810,000 from the New Opportunities Fund. The Cricket and Sports Centre was built in 2005 and opened in 2006 and since then the school has developed strong, robust relationships with a wide range of local clubs.
The Cricket and Sports Centre includes:
- Sports Hall - 5 Badminton Court Sized. Fitted with 4 cricket practice lanes 43m long, with two different surfaces to facilitate pace and spin bowling. The hall has an automatic bowling machine and a video camera for performance analysis. There are cross nets so the hall can accommodate two classes at the same time.
- Video Playback Room – used for coaching, the room can playback videos from the main hall and analyse them using ‘Quintic’ software.
- Changing rooms – with showers and lockers (for 100 boys and 70 girls and disabled changing)
- Reception - with office for the Centre Manager
- Vending Area
- 3 large storerooms
On the first floor of the Centre there is:
- Fitness Room – with 10 stations of commercial level equipment
- Dance Studio – able to accommodate 12-15 students and used for martial arts as well as dance.
- 2 Large Classrooms – with viewing into the main hall, used for coaching, courses, conferences and spectator viewing
- PE Staff offices
Externally there are:
- Grass Pitches – 3 Football, 1 Rugby and an artificial cricket wicket
- Pavilion (built in 2011)- with external changing for sports teams and summer schools
The school also has a traditional style Gymnasium in the main school building.
Type of community users
The Centre is only available for organised group bookings. It is used on a regular basis by 17 local Cricket Clubs and 14 ‘Non Cricket’ Clubs that include Basketball, Tai Chi, Football and Weightwatchers etc.
Liverpool Football Club run their ‘Respect 4 All’ disability coaching course at the Centre and it is also used for PE Teacher Training and Lancashire Cricket Board level 3 coaching. The Centre is also a home base for Liverpool Cricket Development Group. Cricket Clubs which utilise the facility range in level and ability and include recreational clubs such as a local Bus Company.
The Cricket and Sports Centre is managed in-house by a full-time Centre Manager mainly working evenings and weekends. The Centre Manager is the main key-holder, deals with maintenance and safeguarding issues, provides customer service and also manages 2/3 site staff and cleaners.
An Administrator deals with enquiries, bookings and generates invoices. Although some booking requests are made on line, the current booking system is manual. The school is working towards an electronic booking system and is also exploring a card entry system for the fitness room. The Deputy Head oversees the site and services but only gets involved if an issue arises and arbitration is required (this happens very rarely).
Income from the Centre covers staffing costs with some surplus, however the school subsidise the maintenance costs.
The Centre is metered separately from the school for gas and electric. It has a state of the art lighting system (due to the high lux levels required for Cricket) and part of the Manager’s role is to ensure only the necessary lights are used, to manage their energy costs.
Making it work
The Centre is available 8.30am-3.30pm for use exclusively by St. Margaret’s students.
From 3.30pm-5.30pm there are ‘twilight sessions’ - where the Centre is available for extracurricular activities and use by other schools.
From 6pm-10pm (and weekends and school holidays) the Centre is available for community use. Only organised groups can use the facilities that have the necessary insurance and child protection policies in place. If individuals express an interest in participating, they are directed to a suitable club.
“The focus is on sustainability rather than making money”
The school encourage ‘long term lets’ of the Cricket and Sports Centre as their focus is on sustainability rather than making money. Priority goes to cricket clubs during the netting season (which for the school is the autumn and spring terms). During the summer term the centre is mainly used by other sports such as 7 aside football clubs (the hall is too big for 5 aside) and for rugby training etc.
The pricing structure favours long term lets – a discount is provided if a club book in excess of 3 terms. Each club must sign a contract with the school and pay a 25% deposit to secure a booking. The terms and conditions include completing a risk assessment and providing details of the club’s child protection officer and safeguarding policy (see Resource Bank). St. Margaret’s aims to support local communities and offers a discretional price reduction for special circumstances.
“Safe and secure car parking was an important factor”
The Centre has its own access route from the main road and secure car parking with floodlighting and CCTV. This security was considered a very important factor for the club members. The Centre has a lift, accessible changing and Braille signs.
The school have not needed to undertake any formal advertising, as all bookings are based on word of mouth. Sr. Margaret’s have created a high quality brochure and a detailed introduction pack for interested parties.
The main issue is accommodating all the clubs that would like use of the facility, particularly during peak times when the Centre is often at capacity. This includes some clubs that offered letters of support during the consultation period and therefore relationships need to be managed sensitively.
Health and Safety is also a continuous concern when some adults refuse to wear cricket helmets (under 16s must wear a cricket helmet).
The final challenge is raising the funds to complete the third phase of the project. The Cricket and Sports Centre was phase one and the construction of the Pavilion was phase two. The final phase is the construction of the All Weather Pitches which will be located adjacent to the existing community parking. Fortunately, some of the foundations for the pitches were created when the Sports Centre was constructed. St. Margaret’s are now hoping with their new academy status they will be able to raise the funds required for the artificial surface, fencing and lighting.
The Cricket and Sports Centre provides a high quality teaching environment for the school. St. Margaret’s offer Sports Leadership qualifications and GCSE PE as well as a programme of extracurricular activities. In June 2011, Ofsted judged PE effectiveness to be ‘outstanding’ during a single subject inspection. The report said:
“Students make rapid gains in improving performance. Many develop outstanding leadership, coaching and officiating skills and use these to support school and community sporting activities. ....They develop a very secure understanding of healthy lifestyle and the proportion of students involved in extra-curricular sporting activities is well above the national average”.
Students also benefit from active involvement with 6 non cricket clubs (Volleyball, Table Tennis, Tennis and Badminton clubs all train at the site) and 9 cricket clubs.
The planning, construction and management stages of a major project like this all have their unique challenges. During the process it is important to:
• Have a good team around you
• Demonstrate commitment and good will
• Employ good interpersonal skills – particularly when dealing with relationships with community groups and clubs
|Type: Academy Converter||Gender: Boys|
|Age Range: 11-18||Size: 964 with Community Users: 11,300 per year|
|Religious Character: Church of England||Location: Surburban, Aigburth, Liverpool|
|Management Model: Direct Management model by school|