Opening up school facilities for community use
Earlier this month Sport England published guidance which will help thousands of schools across the country open up their sporting facilities to the local community.
At the moment, 76% of sports halls, 73% of artificial grass pitches, 29% of swimming pools and 52% of grass pitches in England are located within the education sector.
This means that a lot of the country's sports facilities sit redundant in the evening at weekends and during the school holidays, despite many sports clubs desperately crying out for somewhere to play.
"Good quality facilities are vital to the success of community sport, yet too often clubs struggle to find a location where they can train and play," said Charles Johnston, Property Director at Sport England. "We hope that this guidance will help schools open up their facilities and experience a host of benefits whilst also supporting sport in their area."
The new guidance advises on the best possible and simplest approach to opening up school facilities, as well as aiming to help head teachers, governors, school business managers and potential school partners understand the benefits of community use. These include:
- Improved educational attainment and attendance
- Training and career opportunities for students
- Increased funding opportunities
- Promoting the school within the local community
- Sporting opportunities for staff and pupils.
The guidance is supported by the National College for School Leadership, an organisation that represents over 95,000 school leaders, governors and administrators.
"The National College welcomes the publication of this guidance which will make it easier for schools to make available their sporting facilities to the local community and increase the use of these valuable assets," said Trevor Summerson, Head of School Business Management and Efficiency at the National College.
The guidance is just one part of a wider programme of work that Sport England is doing to improve access to school sports facilities. As part of Sport England's new strategy, all secondary schools who wish to do so will be helped to open up, or keep open, their sports facilities for local community use and at least a third of these will receive additional funding to make this happen.