Letting your school spaces to generate income: 12 tips to get started

Written by: Vicki Atkin | Published:
Image: Adobe Stock

From halls to classrooms, schools have many spaces that could be hired out to generate additional income. Vicki Atkin offers 12 tips to get you started

In the current economic climate and in a difficult school funding landscape, there has never been a more important time to generate sustainable income for your school.

In these challenging times, identifying opportunities to make the most of the assets in your school can make a difference and this includes utilising your school’s spaces for external lettings, both during term-time and within school holidays.
There is a growing demand for community spaces available for hire, including main halls and sports halls, dining halls, classrooms and outdoor spaces.

These can be used for anything from children’s clubs and childcare to fitness and wellbeing activities, language courses to music practice and recitals.

A three-hour booking could generate as much as £150 to £300 per session. So if we assumed a £250 rental fee per-session and three sessions a week then this could generate as much as £3,000 a month.
Aside from bringing in an incremental income, the associated marketing with this work also has the potential to raise the profile of the school, helping enrolment and retention.

If your school is interested in letting out its spaces, then how do you get started? Here are 12 tips:

Start small: Just one weekend slot can earn up to £1,000 per month. By starting small, you can see how the space works for you and your users and it allows you the chance to get your hiring processes working perfectly. Every space has value, even if you only have a small hall or a classroom to rent out – these could be the next perfect space for a local tutoring company or an after-school club organiser.

Discount your spaces for your community: Having a rate card price can be important for high-value bookings, but consider a reduced hourly price for the parents of children at your school. Your families will appreciate the special rates and they may help boost your bookings for things like parties or other events.

Use your own marketing: Communicate to your parent community through newsletters and events at no cost and encourage them to spread the word through social media groups. WhatsApp groups or other parent communication channels are a great way to raise awareness of your school.

Use your own team: Your caretaker may be happy to open and close for you out of hours, but also consider using other members of staff who may be open to earning some extra money.

Don’t get tied down: Be wary of locking into long-term supplier contracts.

Engage your PTA: Raise awareness through your active parents and through annual events such as summer fetes. Opening up your school to families and the local community not only gives you the chance to raise funds but is also the perfect chance to show off your spaces for hire and to promote them.

Collaborate, don’t compete: Share your lessons learnt with other schools in your area and build your community.

Build a network: You might event build up a local network. There are a number of benefits. First, you can share the wealth – if you can’t host a booking, pass the customer onto one of your network schools. This can work both ways, of course. Another advantage could be supporting each other with staffing. If, for example, your caretaker cannot open up for a booking for some reason, maybe someone from a network school could help you out.

Have a transparent lettings policy: Clearly state the types of events you do and don’t host. Each enquiry can take up valuable time for your office staff – and we all know that time is a precious commodity in schools. Being clear about what is allowed will also help minimise the number of enquiries you get from those who have booked asking whether they can have this or that at their event.

Benchmark your hourly pricing: Check-out similar venues in your area and benchmark your hourly rates. The last thing you want to do is over-price your spaces, especially if you become too expensive that it actually puts people off booking with you. You also don’t want to under-sell yourself, so do a bit of research into venue hire in your local area and this will give you a good idea of what your price range should be.

Safeguarding: For providers of events involving children or vulnerable people, consider safeguarding checks and ensure they have appropriate public liability insurance in place. Most children’s club owners will have all of the relevant documentation and will be ready to supply this to you on request.

All on board: Ensure you have agreement and buy-in from the senior leadership team and the school’s board of governors or trustees.

  • Vicki Atkin is community development director at Sharesy and an experienced primary school leader. Sharesy is a venue hire platform for community spaces, helping schools to generate a sustainable income. Visit www.sharesy.com

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