Opening Up School Facilities

Research tells us that almost 40% of sports facilities in England are on school sites. This means that schools hold the key to being able to provide opportunities for their communities to access sport and physical activity, and yet this is often an untapped resource.

The Opening up School Facilities agenda aims to help schools utilise the spaces and facilities they have and create opportunities to connect with the people around them, generate some income to maintain and develop their facilities and create more opportunities for physical activity for the residents of their communities.  

It was clear this was an area of work that needed further development and therefore we are continuing to work with schools to help them open their facilities.

Why should I open my school facilities?

There are many benefits to opening your facilities outside of normal school hours.

These include:

  • Placing the school at the heart of the local community
  • Increased revenue
  • Positive impact on Progress 8
  • Community Engagement
  • People have more access to sport and physical activity and will be more likely to reach CMO guidelines for physical activity
  • You can link with local clubs, NGBs and providers to align your school’s extracurricular offer to have a clear exit route pathway for pupils
  • Improved attendance

Accessing the resources Active Partnerships have to support you to open your school facilities by putting OSF on the school agenda.

Work achieved so far

Consultation began with a county wide survey to schools where staff told us about the barriers they faced in opening their facilities.

  • Staffing problems– getting people to staff the site out of normal school hours and safeguarding issues that arise around this
  • Financial implications– paying for staff to manage bookings, staffing the site out of hours, and costs of maintaining facilities
  • Admin– lots of extra admin to have to open more facilities

The overwhelming motivation for schools opening their facilities was to place themselves at the heart of the community and help the local people connect with the school. This meant that although staff wanted a solution to help reduce admin time and staffing issues, they were reluctant to lose the personal relationships they have with long standing customers. 

Active Cornwall proactively worked in three locations with the aim to minimise inequalities in areas of deprivation. However, we also responded to need elsewhere should schools want to be involved in this project. 

Active Cornwall has been working with Budehaven Secondary School to pilot a booking platform as a solution to the barriers they experience hiring out the school’s facilities.

After searching the market for an adequate booking solution, we found Vivify – a new and innovative organisation, which understands that schools each have specific and individual barriers that prevent them opening some, or all, of their facilities.

Budehaven wants to specifically use Vivify to minimise their admin time and generate succinct and concise reports to see which facilities are being used the most and by whom, how much revenue they are generating by having their facilities open and who is using their facilities at certain times.

We are keen to extend this offer to any school that wishes to come on board with a digital solution for their school lettings. You can watch a webinar introducing Vivify and what they can offer you. From here, you can get in touch with Megan at Active Cornwall: megan.hilley@cornwall.gov.uk to discuss onboarding with Vivify. 

Open Up School Facilities

Brannel School has some state-of-the-art facilities that it wants to utilise by opening some spaces they currently do not use. As well as this, they want to alleviate inequalities among groups of pupils who are not proactively engaging in sport and physical activity. The school wants to offer more provision after school, at the weekends and during holidays to maximise opportunities for these young people to have access to active opportunities.

Support from Active Cornwall

We can work with you to understand your barriers and create bespoke solutions to issues specifically pertaining to your school. 

Sport England also has a section on its website dedicated to OSF called ‘Use Our School’. This will support you through each stage of the journey, whether you are just starting out, or you want to expand your current offer.

You can get in touch with us to discuss this topic further by contacting Megan at Active Cornwall at megan.hilley@cornwall.gov.uk