Our Lady’s RC High School

Our Lady’s RC High School has offered community use for some time but they were limited by the standard and range of facilities

In 2003/4 the school applied for lottery funding through Manchester City Council to enhance their sporting provision. The bid was successful and in 2006 they were able to add an extension to their sports hall to include a dance studio, additional changing rooms, and community entrance and office space. This was achieved with a £560,000 capital grant from the lottery and a £130,000 contribution from the school. In 2008, Our Lady’s appointed a full-time Sports Centre Manager with the help of a £50,000 revenue grant which was part of the Lottery bid. As community use expanded, the school have been able to take on more part-time staff to deal with the day to day running of the facilities. This has enabled the Sports Centre Manager to focus on the developmental side of the role.

We work with clubs to develop an affordable offer for the local community

The lottery funding conditions require the school to prioritise the local community, and this is reflected in the Sports Centre Development Plan (see Resource Bank) and community use monitoring processes.

In 2009, through the Building Schools for the Future programme, the school benefited from a new main school building. As part of the scheme, and a further contribution from the school, they were able to build a full-size All Weather Pitch and two new seeded grass football pitches (with the help of partnership funding). These improvements to the external sports facilities have further enhanced their community offer.

In 2013 Ofsted reported that, “The rich variety of activities and clubs available during the lunch hour and after school contributes greatly to students’ enjoyment of school and their good, social and cultural developments. Students have many opportunities for sports, musical activities and charity work.”


Indoor Facilities:

Sports Hall – 4 badminton court-sized (including indoor cricket nets)
Dance Studio – approx 15m x 10m with sprung floor, mirrors and sound system with storage. The studio can accommodate up to 50 participants and is used for dance, martial arts and table tennis etc 
Classroom – with TV, whiteboard, projector and flipcharts which is adjacent to the sports hall. The room is used for club meetings, NGB and coaching awards
Changing Rooms - two sets with showers and lockers (for approx 20 capacity in each.) One set are mainly used by the community and the other set mainly for curriculum use
Disabled toilets, changing room and shower
Community foyer area - with seating and healthy drinks vending machine.

External Facilities:

All Weather Pitch (AWP) – 3G full size and floodlit until 9pm with markings for football and hockey, can be hired in thirds for training
2 Grass Football Pitches – used by local football clubs
MUGA – used for tennis and netball, limited community use as not floodlit.
Cycle storage facilities.

Type of community users

Our Lady’s Sports Centre hosts a wide variety of groups and a broad range of activities in line with their Sports Centre Development Plan.

“70% of community users are from our target M9 postcode”

This is split between Sports Clubs, Community Exercise Classes (e.g. circuit training and Zumba) and private users (e.g. 5 aside Football on the AWP). They also regularly hold sports coaching awards, tournaments and events and as a Community Sports Centre, preference is always given to local junior and community user groups.

Clubs include:

Northside Junior Football Club (under 7s to under 16s teams)
Manchester Diamonds Cheerleading Club (6 to 16yrs)
Our Lady’s Table Tennis Club (junior and adult teams playing in Oldham Table Tennis League it is affiliated to the ETTA with Premier League Club status). This club was developed by the Sports Centre Manager due to expressions of interest from Students.
TKS Karate Club (all ages)
KMMA Kickboxing Club (6 years and over)
Blackley Badminton Club (all ages)
Old Boys Basketball Club (playing in the Manchester Area Basketball League) - made up of former pupils who then worked with the school to develop a junior club that students can access.

The Sports Centre Manager works with clubs and groups to ensure they are delivering an affordable offer for the local community. This can mean supporting groups with promotion and marketing and sometimes taking on the risk of setting up a new activity, and then passing it on to an external provider once it is established.

This proactive approach is a response to the Sports Centre Vision: “To provide a programme of top class sports activities within an excellent sporting facility. Always aiming to meet the ever changing requirements of the pupils and local community”.
Every three or four months the timetable is reviewed to ensure it is still reaching local community members. Local people are defined by those residing in the M9 postcode, and they make up 70% of the Sports Centre users.

Management model

Community use is managed directly by the school, employing a full-time Sports Centre Manager who reports to the School Business Manager. The Sports Centre Manager is supported by 6 part-time casual staff employed as duty managers to work evenings and weekends, based on demand. This enables the Sports Centre Manager to take on a more strategic role including developing networks, maintaining relationships with clubs and groups, marketing and accessing funds. Part of the Manager’s time is spent representing the school at external events such as residents meetings, youth networks and sharing ideas with other local schools who also offer community use.

Making it work


The Sports Centre is separated from the main school by an internal service road, and has its own entrance and car park. This makes it easy to open and close the sports facilities separately from the main school and operate out of school hours both securely and efficiently. Having a designated set of changing rooms for community use also helps the Sports Centre run smoothly.


During community opening hours there are always two staff present, one remains in the community office/reception area to take phone calls, deal with payments etc and the other floats between the car park, pitches etc - wherever required.
The Sports Centre staff ensure the facilities are ready for community use at 4.30pm by tidying up any equipment, litter picking and sweeping up where required. The facilities are cleaned by school cleaning staff in the morning before the school day begins.


There is some limited ‘pay and play’ of football pitches during the summer period when business is quiet, but in winter the Sports Centre is working at capacity through regular bookings from clubs and groups. The pricing policy incorporates 3 rates – a junior rate, a local community rate, and a commercial /non-local rate. The commercial rate helps to subsidise the low cost local community rate. Clubs and groups must sign a booking form which includes conditions of hire which they must abide by (see Resource Bank).

Utilities costs, including floodlight provision and grounds maintenance, are subsumed within the main school budget as part of the school’s sustained support and commitment to facilities in the neighbourhood. The community use income covers the Sports Centre staff wages and equipment and repair/maintenance costs and the budget shows a notional profit.

Sustainability and Growth

Our Lady’s RC High currently have aspirations to expand the site and create a Fitness Suite as they have identified a demand in their area. It is a continuous job to develop and maintain relationships with clubs but the Sports Centre Manager recognises that happy clubs stay loyal and will also support the work of the school.

“We try to offer a variety of activities whilst remaining financially viable”

Main Challenges

  • Trying to offer a variety of affordable activities whilst trying to stay financially viable is an ongoing challenge. It is difficult to get a balance between the two, but the All Weather Pitch helps with this as it is a great income generator and frees up the indoor facilities for other types of activities.
  • Conflicts can occur with the PE staff, particularly regarding repairs and maintenance of equipment and storage requirements. The Sports Centre has just two cupboards for community storage, one is filled with table tennis tables and the other with cheerleading mats, kickboxing pads etc. so there is always a demand for more space. Sometimes it is unclear who has damaged a piece of equipment and consequently who should pay for the replacement costs.


  • It is hard to quantify, but the Sports Centre has improved the school’s reputation within the community and this has had a positive impact on pupil intake (local primary aged children and their families often use the facilities).
  • The school has developed good relationships with their Sports Clubs enabling students to access more experienced coaches during the curriculum.
  • The Sports Centre Manager is able to access external funding and as a result students have benefited from new sports equipment and resources.

Top Tips

  1. Plan plenty of community storage into any new build or refurbishment programme
  2. Work out an agreement between the Community arm and the PE department; know where you stand in terms of storage, equipment, facility usage etc.
  3. Get out into the community to develop relationships with clubs and groups. In the past the Sports Centre has wasted money on advertising and banners etc when getting out and meeting people is a much more effective method of reaching new audiences and developing a community offer.

Contact details

Ben Tanner – Our Lady’s Sports Centre Manager
Email: b.tanner@olsc.manchester.sch.uk

School Profile

Type: Voluntary Aided Gender: Mixed
Age Range: 11-16 Size:754 with Community Users: 60,000 per year
Religious character: Roman Catholic Location: Inner City, Manchester
Management Model: Direct management by school