Community use needs to be embedded in your wider school vision and ethos. Developing a vision for community use will help your stakeholders (including staff, students, governors, parents and community partners) understand and support your community programme.
"Clarity of vision - there should be a Community Vision which is shared by the whole school" - Geoff Lawton, Business and Community Manager at Cowplain Community School.
Creating a vision
Things to consider:
1) The school mission and ethos towards community use and sport, including any target audiences.
2) Your approach – either as an individual school or working in partnership with others (e.g cluster of schools, leisure operator, as part of a multi-academy trust).
3) The range and quality of sports facilities you can and wish to offer and the available capacity of these. For example, you might want to start small scale by simply offering limited use of one space such as a sports hall, or by just offering a well-supported programme such as Sport England’s satellite clubs programme.
4) The level of partnerships you have/are willing to develop.
For example, you may already have a good link with a trusted club where both sides are keen to develop a more long term tenant arrangement, such as agreeing for them to be a key holder club.
5) The level of demand for both existing and potential community use
There are Sport England tools which can help you find out about the current picture of community sport in your area. A good starting point will be for you to have a conversation with your local leisure providers. Also, partners such as your County Sports Partnership and/or Local Authority Leisure department usually will be able to guide you on this.
It is important to take a strategic approach to deciding on what provision to offer. This will lower your exposure to risk and will ensure your school will be operating sustainably, taking sensible steps not to undermine current local provision.
6) The resources you want to allocate towards community use
The level of resource you are willing to allocate towards community use of your sports facilities will be determined by the school’s appetite and its acceptable level and type of risk (i.e. financial, people such as staffing, Governors’ involvement).
- If more risk averse, you may still decide to offer out the school but prefer to share risks with a third party operator.
- If more risk taking, you may be comfortable to allocate greater investment up front with the confidence in a sustainable business plan to ensure cost recovery in the medium to longer term.
What success might look like for your school
It is important through your vision to have a shared understanding of where you want to get to, and a means of measuring your performance towards this. Selecting and using indicators will help you to gauge your success.
Our ‘What does good look like?’ performance tool is a resource that you can adapt for your own needs.
There is not one success model that fits all schools. What is important is that your approach resonates with your school vision. Our case studies provide a range of examples from different schools using different approaches to make it happen.