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Sourcing new and inventive ways to boost income

Paul Andrews, Director of School Lettings Solutions, discusses how academies can utilize their assets to ensure a stable financial future

Posted by Charley Rogers | September 08, 2017 | Law, finance, HR

Recent figures have shown that from 2015 to 2016 academies in England received less funding per pupil than they had done four years earlier. The median income for a secondary school pupil in an academy during 2015 to 2016 was £5,714 – this is down from £6,340 in 2011 to 2012. Combining this drop in income with the government’s plans to reduce educational spending by £844,000 by 2022 and the financial pressure that academies are already under is likely to worsen considerably.

Despite the pledge by the Conservative party to set aside an additional £4bn for education, the Institute of Fiscal Studies predicts that this commitment will in fact leave academies and schools facing cuts of 7% between 2015 and 2022 due to rising inflation and increasing student numbers.

So, given the rising pressures academies are coming under due to spending cuts, how can they ensure a stable financial future?

Financial and reputable gains

According to recent findings by The Key, (a project that aims to support maintained schools and academies) over half of academy leaders now believe that budget pressures are the biggest challenge facing the education this academic year. What is worrying is that 48% of leaders stated they have little to no confidence in their academies’ abilities to cover staffing costs in the next two years, with 57% going on to state that they are not confident that they will be able to resource the curriculum adequately. These are all startling figures and show the true extent of the cuts on schools’ abilities to function properly.  

It is therefore crucial that academies not only make better use of their funding, but also look for possible ways to generate additional income to ease their financial worries.

The idea of generating additional income is an approach that is being favoured by 42% of academy and school leaders – they have opted to begin letting out their schools’ vacant facilities and buildings to local groups and clubs during the weeknights and weekends.

As academies are often situated in the heart of their communities, and due to the quality facilities they can provide, they are perfectly placed to house community-based groups and clubs. For many towns and cities across the UK, there is a severe lack of quality facilities that can be accessed by all – this can often act as a deterrent that discourages members of the public to get involved in activities in their local area.

However, by opening up school facilities to the community, this enables more people to join local sporting and activity groups, where they may not have had the chance to before. Encouraging increased participation in such events is extremely positive for both schools and the local area. Firstly, it helps to raise the profile of the academy within the community and may attract more students to attend the school. And secondly, as more groups begin to hire out the facilities that once lay unused during evenings and weekends, this will help the academy to generate an additional source of income that it was previously missing out on.

Using a managed lettings service

Due to academies already being stretched with regards to both money and time, renting out their buildings and facilities can often take a back seat. Quite rightly, academies are more concerned with concentrating their efforts and resources on meeting the educational and wellbeing needs of their students.

To help academies take make better use of their often vacant facilities, there are services available that can manage the whole lettings process. Entering into a partnership with a lettings service means that academies do not need to invest their own time or money into hiring out their facilities. Instead, all the logistics (staffing, finance and administration) are overseen and managed by the service provider at no cost to the school.

With further budget cuts expected, greater scrutiny will be placed on academy staff to make efficient use of their funds. To ease the considerable pressures they are under, academies are being pushed to find new ways to generate income - and their facilities may hold the answer. Rather than lying unused when pupils are not in school, letting out these facilities could hold the key to a much needed additional source of finance for our country’s education providers.

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