Last week I sat down with a headteacher to discuss how her school was progressing this academic year. She was candid about the current educational climate and challenges around school budgets – and then dropped the following into our conversation: “We’ve just been paid in the region of £21,000 in rental from our extended school [7.30am to 8.30am breakfast / 3.30pm to 6pm after school] and holiday clubs.”
As a primary school consultant and currently serving primary school governor, I can only imagine the impact that amount of money would have on the pupils in that school. Which prompts the question – can other schools replicate this type of revenue generation?
Providing before/after school and holiday care for families within your community can be an excellent way of generating revenue and boosting pupil numbers. There are two options for running such a service – developing your own in-house provision as a school or MAT, or using an external provider.
When consulting with a school on its childcare provision, I’ll always suggest canvassing parental opinion before making any decisions. These conversations with parents can be carried out via parent forums, coffee mornings, parent evenings, progress days or any other methods you already use for engagement.
If there isn’t going to be the uptake, then however vital the provision might be for some families, it’ll inevitably become financially unsustainable. To generate sufficient revenue, a site will need to have approximately 15 or more pupils per day.
With the data collated, you can then decide whether to set up the provision yourself or enlist the services of an external provider. Opting for the latter will reduce the need for internal administration and lower your overheads. All external providers must register with Ofsted and comply with the requirements of the Childcare Register, but there’s something else, too – you can charge the provider rental and generate income for your school.
The most effective rental models work on a percentage per head attending the club(s), as opposed to a flat fee. As the numbers increase, so will the payments received by the school. How you then spend that money is up to you. I’ve previously worked with schools that have used it to fund full-time specialist PE teachers and intervention programmes aimed at raising whole school academic standards.
Alternatively, you can decide to bring the provision in house. I was previously a senior leader at a school which chose to operate in this way, and know from experience that internal provision gives you more autonomy over how the provision is run. That said, there are independent providers out there who can help with the initial set up and administration tasks. It’s a system with clear advantages – the staff will belong to the school, and often be from within the local community, thus building trust with parents. In this instance, the school generated a substantial amount of revenue from its provision, which it put towards paying for academic interventions and additional classroom resources.
The opportunities are certainly there for schools to generate additional funding in what’s becoming an ever tougher landscape. Perhaps you too could find yourself saying, ‘We’ve just received around £21,000’ during the next academic year. Sounds good, doesn’t it?
Ben Aston is head of operations and primary school consultant at J and C Education