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      Finding creative ways to offset school running costs

      The schools funding crisis is never far from the headlines and with recruitment issues adding to schools’ burdens, schools are looking now more than ever at creative ways to generate income.

      Running a school is costly. From staff costs to investment in grounds and maintenance, not to mention finding the budget to pursue the passions and interests of the school. For independent schools, boarding costs and the sums associated with expertly looking after its pupils’ welfare also adds to the outgoings list.

      Now more than ever, senior leadership teams and governors are looking for alternative and innovative ways to generate income. Some ideas are more relevant to secondary or independent schools with more facilities, but there might be one or two here that you haven’t considered. Of course, many schools have been doing these sorts of projects for some time, but other schools may not have considered the possibilities.

      Facilities

      Renting out your school’s facilities is probably the most obvious way to generate more income. Everything from a gym to school fields, the library, classrooms and tennis courts can be used by others. It is obviously necessary to time these rentals to coincide with times when the school isn’t in session or when usage is low. Many schools rent their entire premises out to national sports and activity companies that run during the school holidays for children to take part in during working hours.

      It’s also a great opportunity for schools to build relationships with local clubs and sporting organisations which may lead to future discounted arrangements.

      Business partnerships

      Many local businesses need venues for corporate entertainment or away days. If your school has good facilities it is worth advertising space that is not used at all times and thinking creatively about how they could be used. Perhaps a local business might like to use your art rooms, swimming pool and playing fields for a day? If you have wonderful grounds and catering facilities, perhaps they could be rented out for cricket matches or other sporting events?

      Using your home-grown talent

      The community around your school is just that, a group of people who have a genuine interest in their locality. Many people would be keen to support their local school given the right circumstances. Many schools use their home-grown talent to attract local paying visitors. If you are putting on a performance for parents, consider opening the show up for one more night just for the extended community. Or if you have a huge amount of work that pupils have created for their art examinations, put on an exhibition and invite the community to come and visit, paying as they do so!

      Staff outreach

      If you are already employing specialists such as ICT technicians, why not consider opening an ICT clinic? Local community members who need support would willingly pay to have their problems resolved locally and quickly and both staff members and the school can benefit from a little extra income outside of lesson time. You could even run community outreach programmes teaching targeted members of the community new skills.

      Streamlining your marketing services

      Many schools waste paper and time creating documents such as school prospectuses to ensure they are keeping details of the school up to date and creating the best possible impression.

      In the process, many printed copies are simply not used because too many were printed at the outset. Consider using software companies that specialise in cost-effective ways to minimise these outgoings. Unify for Schools uses simple software to enable school admissions departments to control and personalise the content and print run of their annual prospectuses. This saves money in the long run and gives schools kudos in the process for the high quality targeted content it produces as an added bonus.

      It’s really well worth the time and effort to give these ideas some thought, as well as sitting down and looking at what the competition does. Trying a few of these ideas may mean that difference between having to compromise the quality of your school’s offering and being able to realise real financial gains.