Utilising Built Assets to Generate Income for Schools

Jenny Beilby
The challenges around school funding have been prolific in the media of late, and are likely to figure extensively in the upcoming general election.

A recent survey of 1,200 school leaders found that to raise finance, 42% were letting buildings, 13% were building partnerships with local businesses and a further 10% were opening nursery provisions on their sites. Faithful+Gould is a market leader when it comes to working with school estates and assets. We are frequently approached to assist schools to help them understand the value of their assets and whether the assets are likely to be a drain on school funding in the future.

If schools are receptive to using their built assets to generate a higher income, then we always advise schools to review their curriculum activities to establish which areas are underused. We can then assist by undertaking physical space utilisation surveys to give a true picture of how the buildings are being used, and whether rooms are being used to their full capacity.

If schools are receptive to using their built assets to generate a higher income, then we always advise schools to review their curriculum activities...

Any excess space identified on school sites has traditionally found a use in providing community spaces such as libraries, community centres and local policing units. However, subject to the location of the space, it could also be used to create an enterprise or innovation hub for start up businesses that could feed into providing extra-curricular activities for the school. It could also offer a reciprocal arrangement with the businesses providing support to the school on likeminded subjects.

Another common arrangement is for shared use spaces, which allow the school to use facilities during the school day, but after school hours, the facilities are made available to the public to generate an income. A typical example is allowing the community to use leisure or catering facilities out of hours. Whilst this generates income, schools have to take care to ensure that all costs are factored in around provision of heating/lighting and also ensuring that staff are available to manage the facility and to secure the building at the end of the day. For some schools, the chance to be the heart of the community is a significant opportunity and the ability to provide community facilities to encourage non-school users to the site is a major attraction.

Where facilities can be provided either locally or on the school site for accommodation, then summer schools remain a popular option.

Where facilities can be provided either locally or on the school site for accommodation, then summer schools remain a popular option. Traditionally summer schools offer overseas students the opportunity to learn about entry into UK schools and universities and are mainly focused on academic study. However, there are specialist summer schools for shorter time periods for adult learners wishing to learn about specialist topics, such as art, cookery or traditional crafts. If a school is located in an area that can offer excursions to relevant locations then it could look to tailor the offering.

However, the geographical location of the school is a key issue that needs to be considered when reviewing what building assets can be used for outside school hours. There is little point in providing community led spaces if the school is in a very rural environment with little demand for the facilities. Unfortunately, there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer to diversification.
Faithful+Gould understand the challenges that schools face and deliver services that encompass initial surveys and feasibilities through to delivering project work that can facilitate diversification.

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