The case for community use

Enabling your community to use your school facilities can bring with it a range of benefits

Raising the school’s profile and presence in your community

Providing sporting opportunities that encourage local people on to your site will help raise your school profile and status, and will show you take seriously your commitment to the local community.

Creating a positive perception amongst your local catchment area can lead to parents selecting your school through choice, increasing your pupil numbers.

Community use can also provide an alternative avenue to engage with those parents that the school has difficulty in reaching through typical school activities.

A positive presence on site after school hours can improve community cohesion and be a way of reducing the risk of out of hours vandalism and anti-social behaviour. The right people on your site will help to indirectly supervise your facilities whilst they are in use.

Being seen as a community hub provides a way of developing wider school links. You may choose to collaborate with other schools and also develop links with your local leisure centres, stakeholders (such as youth services and police) and community clubs. This can reinforce your profile and as an important local asset provider and will promote community safety.

The right wider links and partnerships are likely to assist your school to lever in investment/resources, for whole school benefit. 

Contributing towards an outstanding school

Providing a vibrant community programme and developing effective partnerships will support whole school improvement. Schools can develop a community use offer that will enrich the curriculum, increase the range and quality of learning opportunities for pupils, whilst improving attainment and attendance

Evidence from large-scale educational studies shows that offering a varied menu of after school activities involving the community, helps increase pupils’ educational attainment, including underachieving young people.

Sport nurtures role models and promotes teamwork, making a positive contribution to many of the factors which build social cohesion, such as physical and mental wellbeing.

Engaging with community partners, such as sport governing bodies and sports clubs, can provide students with the opportunity to benefit from wider learning experiences whilst also providing vocational opportunities to train as coaches, volunteers and officials and gain formal qualifications.  

Sport may be part of a wider community offer including, for example, the arts and family learning programmes, which can also have a positive impact on student performance.

Generating income streams

Once your community programme is established with a sustainable business plan and appropriate pricing policy, it is possible to generate income which can then be used to renew and develop your sports provision or offer enrichment activities to your students.

Being proactive and taking a partnership approach to projects involving community use will provide you with opportunities to source external funding and maximise your resources.

Providing community clubs with regular and secure access to your facilities will ensure a regular income stream and enable the school to offer sport opportunities to your local community without having to deliver them yourselves.

Delivering health benefits

For students, school staff and your local community, engaging regularly in physical activity can have a significant impact on wellbeing and general engagement. Research demonstrates that pupils with better health and wellbeing are likely to achieve better academically.

A school is a safe and familiar setting to provide access to healthy community programmes which meet local need, are convenient and affordably priced.

By the school developing good links with community clubs, you will be contributing to the health benefits by offering a smooth progression for your pupils from school to community club sport, and providing new opportunities for young people to create lifelong sporting habits. Sport England has guidance on satellite clubs to help you develop links with clubs and programmes.

The Ofsted perspective

Providing a well-managed and integrated community offer can support a school in meeting Ofsted’s requirements including:

a)    The social and cultural development of pupils

b)    Opportunities for sporting excellence

c)    Engaging pupils in extra-curricular activity

d)    Promoting physical well-being

e)    Volunteering within the community

For example, pupils might volunteer and develop their leadership skills through involvement with a community sports club.

Teaching staff working with NGB affiliated clubs can learn new coaching skills and gain expertise in a particular sport to enrich the student’s learning experience.