Academy trusts are facing a number of the same challenges as schools still under local authority control, with press reports of 60% of trusts warning that funding cuts and cost increases are driving cashflow and budget issues. Larger deficits are, in turn, putting pressure on pay, staffing and building repairs and maintenance.
Generating additional income
Cutting costs is the first option many academy trusts will consider, but they also have the option of generating additional income to supplement direct funding from the Department for Education.
With significant income generation streams available to many academies, working a trust’s assets harder can become key to sustainability, without any of the negative implications of cutting costs.
So if you are involved with an Academy Trust, working at the sharp end to ensure the educational outcomes you provide are not compromised by cost cutting, you might want to consider some of these options:
- Most academies have better meeting facilities than many hotels – including projectors, flip charts, white boards, wifi, as well as ample free parking. Some of you even have performance spaces. And most of those facilities are often locked up and dark through the extensive school holiday periods. It may or may not be practical to hire them out at weekends or evenings in term time, but conference and meeting rooms are in high demand and could be hired out to local businesses over Christmas, Easter and the long Summer break.
- If you have a team of IT technicians, it could be worth talking to other schools to see if sharing your resources could generate income and help other educational establishments.
- Could your IT technicians or even older pupils run low cost training sessions for local people who want to master the internet or email?
- Outside catering can also be useful if you have an in-house catering team; providing meals for meetings, other local schools or nurseries will help you make better use of fixed assets and should generate useful income whether ad-hoc or regular.
- Do you have fencing or boundaries facing high traffic areas that could be used as advertising space for local businesses?
Community Support Facilities
- Sports facilities can easily be shared with the local community on a hire basis, so pitches, pools and gyms benefit a larger audience than just your pupils. Regular hire of pitches to sports groups can be lucrative and requires little management; a membership system for pool and gym, while it would need to cover the costs of supervision, can also provide a regular income stream.
- With appropriate checks and insurance, academy minibuses can be hired out when not required.
- Car parking is often at a premium in town centre locations or places near popular leisure venues. Weekend and evening parking could generate income; alternatively car boot sales, driver training or other events needing a large hard standing could make useful ad-hoc contributions to a stretched budget.
There are, of course, tax and VAT implications of earned income, but for more information or to discuss your options around generating additional income for academy schools, just call Rawlinsons on 01733 568321. We have a team specialising in Education and will be happy to help.