The school is situated in a multi-cultural setting serving a large local authority housing estate and some private housing.
The school also manage community use for Broadfield Primary (size: 344) and St. Martin’s C of E Primary (size: 259).
Over 40 years ago the school became the first ‘dual use’ sports centre in Oldham (for school and local authority use). In 2002 Oldham Community Leisure became the management body, but as the condition of the facilities deteriorated, community use declined.
Managing community use for a group of schools through a Co-operative Trust
Around 8 years ago the school took over the management of community use after a number of successful bids to improve the facilities, including Sport England and New Deal for Communities funding for outdoor Netball Courts and an All Weather Pitch.
In 2009, Hathershaw College formed the West Oldham Co-operative Trust with 3 primary school partners, NHS Oldham, Liverpool John Moores University, Oldham Sixth Form College and Oldham Athletic Community Trust.
The trust aims to improve health and well being and to promote community cohesion. As a co-operative they actively engage students, parents and the wider community as stakeholders. The Co-operative Trust provided the ideal vehicle to manage community use on behalf of two partner Primary Schools.
The school have a strong relationship with their partners, for example, KS4 students who gain the Junior Sports Leadership Award run sessions at the local Primary partner schools.
Sports Hall – 4 Badminton court sized
Gymnasium – with the wall bars and fixed equipment now removed this space is used for Pilates, Aerobics under 5s Football and Rugby etc
Fitness Suite – with 2 Bikes, 2 Rowing Machines, 2 Running Machines and weights, used by students as a breakfast club and also by community clubs if they have someone trained to supervise.
Canteen – used by clubs and groups
Classroom – with interactive whiteboard used for coaching
6 Outdoor floodlit netball courts
All Weather Pitch – Full size floodlit 3G pitch with outdoor changing for matches
Grass Pitches – capacity for 8-10 pitches but these are in poor condition
On each Primary school site:
All Weather Pitch – Floodlit 1/3 size 3G pitch (no changing)
Types of community users
Customers are primarily clubs and organised groups as the school do not have the facility to offer ‘pay and play’. Oldham Netball Club are based at the school and have six teams. Oldham Volleyball, Hathershaw Community Netball Club and a Rugby Youth Team also regular use the facilities on a long term basis. The Pakistani Community use the school for cultural events and activities. Hathershaw College also run breakfast and after school clubs as part of their core offer until 6pm weekdays, and Oldham Sports Development unit run a series of activities throughout the summer holidays.
The school run community use for a group of schools as part of the West Oldham Cooperative Trust. The Assistant Head of the School manages community use with support from her Administrator and the School Business Manager. Hathershaw College employ a Sports Centre Manager who works from 3pm every weekday and weekends as required. Their role is to litter pick and tidy facilities for community use, set out equipment, receive customers, take bookings and lock up – This position is held by a member of staff from a caretaking background but with hindsight it would be an advantage for this person to also have sports development experience. The Sports Centre Manager is supported by a small team of casual staff and the school employ Sixth Formers for these posts. The school caretaking team also heavily support the community activity.
Making it work
The financial arrangements for community use have evolved and the school acknowledge they are not ideal. 20% of the community use income is retained by the school to cover the costs of cleaning. The salaries are consumed within the main school budgets along with the electricity costs. Income from the outdoor facilities goes into the trust account and income from the indoor area to the school account. The funds held within the West Co-operative Trust account are used to pay for the casual staff salaries and the maintenance related to community use.
“We rely on good will and support from Oldham Sports Development Unit”
The Trust has charitable status which allows the school to access additional funding streams. The income from community use is not huge, but the actively supports the school ethos of allowing access 24/7. The school have recently installed booking software which enables them to provide a more efficient service.
There is a pricing structure for community use– those within a local postcode area receive a reduced price, junior teams also receive a reduced price, summer prices for outdoor facilities are cheaper than winter prices to take into account the cost of the floodlighting.
“As Assistant Head, I could drive Community Use more if I did not have so many hats to wear”
There is a separate entrance for the indoor sports facilities, the AWP is situated 400m from the Sports Centre and would benefit from its own reception building for supervision.
The facilities are marketed through free adverts in the local paper, school newsletters, school websites and promotion at Parents evening and via Governors. The Local Authority sports development unit will also signpost new clubs to the school which have achieved clubmark status and may be suitable partners.
- The current management arrangements rely on the Assistant Head who has been at the school 25 years and therefore has good local knowledge and strong relationships with clubs. The structure is fragile as it relies on good will and personalities rather than specific posts.
- Vandalism has been an issue as the AWP is located away from the main school building and is therefore not easily supervised. However the school are currently making improvements to their security, car parking and external lighting to help combat this problem.
- The current financial arrangements are not ideal; it would be an improvement to have a separate budget and clear definitions for school and community income and expenditure.
Hathershaw College believe the community should feel ownership of their school and community use is therefore a fundamental part of what they do. As part of the community use agreement, clubs using the school facilities allow students from the school to train and play at no charge. After school sessions naturally overlap with club activity, allowing students to benefit from netball, volleyball and cricket coaching sessions.
“Offering a natural place for young people to come and play sport”
During the school holidays, the school becomes a natural place for students to come and play sports, it is extremely well used and keeping the students engaged also avoids any potential unsocial behaviour. The majority of students are not from a background where their parents would take them to clubs, so the school provide a safe environment for young people to access sporting opportunities.
- Visit different schools with different management models before you decide what is right for your school.
- Work closely with your local authority Sports Development unit.
- Make your site as secure as possible, particularly where outdoor facilities are isolated from the main school.
- Ensure clubs are represented on a committee or forum to gain regular feedback and develop your offer.
|Type: Academy Converter||Gender: Mixed|
|Age Range: 11-16||Size: 930|
|Location: Oldham||Community Users: approx. 600 per year|
|Management Model: Direct Management by school through a Co-operative trust|