It requires minimal staffing from their caretaking staff who combine the role with carrying out their general out of hours caretaking duties. The model works for the school, due to the large number of block bookings they receive from regular clubs.
Annual No. of Community Users: approximately 20 different clubs use the facilities many have several sessions or teams at various times during the week.
Location: Stanley High School serves the seaside town of Southport, 12 miles north of Liverpool.
Facilities available for community use
- Sports Hall – 5 Badminton Court Sized
- Traditional Gymnasium with sprung floor
- Grass pitches – only available for junior club use due to wear and tear.
- Refurbished 3G pitches, 50mm rubber crumb surface providing. Three 18m x 37m or one 55m x 37m pitch.
- Types of Community Users: junior football clubs for training, adult football teams both social and league teams, six-a-side adult league, gymnastics club, netball club, three badminton clubs one badminton league, keep fit group, Clubbercise classes, disabled youth club and army cadets.
The school supervise community use by utilising their caretaking staff. Caretakers are employed in shifts and community hours are built into their normal working pattern (7am – 9pm weekdays and also weekends). This means the school do not have to pay them overtime. Two caretaking staff are on duty during community hours to avoid lone working.
The caretakers open up and check the community space and toilets are clean, they also set up any non-specialist equipment, and ensure the group have signed in. They will also deal with occasional payment of fees, for example if it is a ‘pay and play’ activity. At the end of the session the caretakers check the space again, deal with any minor cleaning, tidy up and make necessary equipment changes.
During the sessions, the caretakers carry out their normal caretaking duties. It is an ideal time to deal with maintenance that cannot be carried out during the school day, such as changing light bulbs.
This arrangement works well for the school as many of the clubs are regular users who book a facility for a 3 hour slot. There is a designated mobile phone used during community hours, so if any of the clubs have an issue they can contact the on-site caretaker. The caretakers are allocated 15 minutes to lock up at the end of the session.
The school used to employ recreational assistants but it was difficult to find them tasks to do in between the handover periods and they found the arrangement was not financially viable.
The site manager deals with bookings and processes charges monthly. This reduces large bills and allows quicker response to any bad debt. We accept pay-as-you-go bookings – in fact this is our preferred procedure if it’s a group of lads hiring the facility rather than an organised club.
Worth mentioning and considering is the school invoices every 10 weeks to coincide with the 10 weekly block booking required for VAT exemption.
This generally equates to 1-2 hours per week spent on community use, but also allows additional time at the beginning of the year to chase up block bookings for the following year.
The finance officer raises the invoices and the business manager authorises the invoices. As a maintained school, they decided to issue invoices via the local authority (Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council). This enables the school to use the council’s debt recovery service if required (this is only necessary occasionally, for one-off bookings not regular clubs).
The staffing costs are subsumed within the main school staffing budget, along with utility costs as there is just one site meter and it would be difficult to identify utility costs associated with community use when there is some basic usage such as PCs and security lights left on during community hours.
Any profit made goes back into the school budget.
There is a standard hourly facility hire rate (Sports Hall £32, 3G Pitch £25, Gymnasium £27 and Classroom £20).
The school also offer a reduced introductory rate for a limited period if it is a new club which has to build up members (eg a new judo club). They also offer a reduced rate for the gymnastics club as they support the school by offering training sessions for students.
Policies and procedures
Most clubs using the school are affiliated so have their own public liability insurance. Any ‘Pay and Play’ Users are made aware what the school public liability insurance does and does not cover.
The school use a booking software system called ‘Booking Pro’ which can be tailored to meet their needs although they do not currently take full advantage of its capabilities.
The Governors review the pricing policy on an annual basis and also set the guidelines for the types of groups and activities that are suitable.
- When taking bookings from clubs, it’s helpful if you request the Club Secretary to make the booking and then the Club Manager’s details are taken for the initial contact. This reduces the risk of an individual not making payment etc.
- Prior to taking a new booking, consider if there is a potential conflict of interest either with the school or any existing hirers. Consideration should be given regarding the age range of community users who are on site at the same time, i.e. can toileting and changing facilities be accommodated without presenting safeguarding issues.
- Offer existing winter hirers the first refusal for next seasons booking but have a cut-off date so that any available sessions can be offered to other interested parties
- Where possible take block bookings from hirers, it makes staffing and invoicing easier to manage.
David Venables – Site Manager