GreaterSport have been awarded a share of Sport England’s £10.1 million investment to help schools open their facilities to the public. The funding, provided by the Department for Education, will help schools deliver extra-curricular activities and open their facilities outside of the school day during evenings, weekends and school holidays.
The coronavirus pandemic has greatly impacted schools and added increased complexity to opening their facilities to local communities. This funding can enable schools to overcome the challenges in opening their facilities in a Covid-secure manner and could include helping them to buy new equipment for sports and activities, as well as arranging additional cleaning and clear signage to help maintain social distancing.
Opening a school’s facilities can benefit both local sports clubs, but also the school itself, it can help to provide a new income stream; contribute towards becoming, or remaining, an outstanding school; and raising the school’s profile and presence within its local community.
GreaterSport will be working with local partners in each of Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs to identify which schools and communities will most benefit from the support to open their facilities. There will also be an open opportunity for any school across Greater Manchester to apply for funding through an Expression of Interest form.
Early in 2020 GreaterSport was part of a pilot project which aimed to learn and better understand the landscape, barriers, solutions and successes for schools in opening their facilities. This earlier project was limited to four of Greater Manchester’s boroughs to ensure a greater depth of learning to help inform guidance for other boroughs moving forward.
Francesca Speakman, Strategic Lead – Active Children and Young People said; This investment means that we can build on the learnings gathered during this pilot project to support schools across the whole of Greater Manchester to offer more, and more varied, opportunities for children and young people and the wider community to be active.
We know that both schools and communities have struggled during the pandemic, so this provides a great opportunity to open local assets to local communities to bring people together and support them to keep moving.”
Katie McLaren, Operation and Community Manager at Oasis Academy Oldham, was involved in the pilot project. Katie said, “Being part of the Opening Schools Facilities project and having support from GreaterSport and additional funding has been hugely beneficial to us. We have been able to move away from a management company that we felt were not supporting the community fully and concentrating too heavily on finances, to being able to run in house and support smaller groups to use our facilities – definitely better all round.”
This investment comes at an important time given the impact coronavirus has had on the activity levels of children and young people and the significant decline in the number of schools offering after-school clubs for pupils or opening their facilities for community use.
A recent survey, conducted on Sport England's behalf, showed that 91% of schools would be prepared to open their facilities for community use when restrictions are lifted, despite the fact only 52% have been able to at any point over the last year.
Tim Hollingsworth, Sport England chief executive, said; "Schools play a vital role in keeping young people active and the pandemic has had a huge impact on their ability to open up their facilities," he explained.
"With this new investment, Active Partnerships will provide support and funding for their local schools so they can open after school and during the school holidays, providing more sports clubs and activity facilities to children and the wider community."
If your school wants to open your facilities, please find out more information and complete our Expression of Interest form here. The deadline to submit your expression of interest is Friday 14th May. Should you have any questions or queries, please email [email protected].
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