Schools are constantly juggling commitments and resources when it comes to managing income.
They face a squeeze on budgets, but must balance the need to provide a high-quality education with contributing to the physical health and mental wellbeing of their pupils.
Basically it boils down to trying to do more with less. But one way of overcoming this is to explore ways of opening up streams for extra income.
This is a logical next-step for schools which have, realistically, reached their limit when it comes to using their existing resource more efficiently.
There are two distinct aspects to earning extra income:
Earning extra income is only effective if the school is able to ensure smooth collection of it, while making it easy for people to pay.
What Can Schools Charge For?
Within an educational context, there are clear guidelines and limitations on what schools can charge for.
They can charge for musical tuition, for example, and for extended day services for pupils, such as breakfast and after-school clubs, and supervised homework sessions.
But importantly, schools can provide facilities which the local community can use, and charge for their use.
Here, it’s then a case of schools considering what kinds of facilities they can offer their local communities, to earn extra income.
Making Good Use of Community Spaces
Schools are central to communities, so it follows that they find ways to serve these communities beyond the basic provision of education.
Many school facilities lie empty and unused on weekday evenings or at weekends. These include sports facilities, school halls, theatres and classrooms.
If schools wish to position themselves as active contributors to communities, then it makes sense for them to open these facilities up to wider use. At the same time, by doing this, they can open up fresh income streams.
The range of activities and purposes that schools can open themselves up to can be fairly wide-ranging, from sports to arts-based and participatory activities.
Sports and Leisure
UKactive research indicates that during the summer holidays, children from poorer families experience a drop in fitness due to lack of affordable facilities for sports and exercise
The poorest 25% of primary school children experience a drop in fitness levels that is 18 times greater than for the richest 25%.
Opening up school sports facilities to wider use, for a reasonable fee, could therefore be beneficial to the health of all families.
British households with children have responded in research studies that they would be more likely to take children to sports and community groups if these were held at a local school.
According to Sport England, underachieving children can increase their numeracy skills by 29% by taking place in sport.
Schools can encourage greater and more diverse participation in sport both outside as well as inside the curriculum, and earn extra income at the same time.
Repurposing its buildings for use by community and other groups can help boost a school’s finances, and strengthen its position within the community.
This can cut across generations too. It doesn’t just have to be a case of offering facilities to host activities for kids.
Examples include choirs, dance groups and art and crafting clubs. Arts Council England suggests that participation in the arts at a community level creates social cohesion and reduces isolation.
If the school has its own purpose-built theatre, it can rent this out for use by local drama groups to put on regular performances.
Business and Meeting Facilities
Another potential income stream for schools is to allow local business groups to use their facilities.
Many schools have the kind of hardware available that is essential for business meetings, such as projectors, large screens, flip-charts and display boards.
Plus, there’s an obvious abundance of tables and chairs, and parking. These various elements could make schools perfect for out-of-hours business networking and other gatherings.
Catering Services and Car Parking
Where schools have in-house catering, this may be able to provide the basis for an external catering service for certain community-based events and activities, or providing food for other schools.
One obvious facility a school has at its disposal is car parking. Depending on location this can offer a regular income stream for out of hours use, if it’s nearby other amenities, which people wish to use.
Car parks and playgrounds can also provide useful spaces for car boot sales and fundraising activities.
Earning and Managing Extra Income
Opening up extra income streams will only be effective if schools have the necessary infrastructure and administration to manage them.
Otherwise, the risk is that either the money gets lost in the system, or the school doesn’t have enough flexible payment methods to maximise its appeal to different user groups.
Essentially, it’s about being business-minded. Just as independent retailers need to keep up with customer preferences when it comes to taking payments, so schools require a similar degree of flexibility.
The question is how well-equipped will a school be to adapt to a more business-like approach to its management of money?
The solution lies in having a joined-up approach to financial management, which can incorporate multiple payment methods. This includes taking cashless and contactless as well as online payments.
Another critical aspect when hiring out facilities or hosting events is being able to take some form of point of sale payment. The best solution here is to have a system that is portable, and adaptable, so the school can use it anywhere.
It’s also important that schools have a reliable means of reconciling the various payments they receive with the people making payments. This is especially true of Gift Aid donations, in order to claim the 25% extra.
To grow, develop, monitor and protect extra income streams, schools need the right tools for the job. We provide these tools.
Streamlined Payment Management
Pebble offers a range of software products to support financial management for schools, including integrated payment systems, bookkeeping and point of sale.
Used as separate applications or as a combined suite, these products provide schools with the essential technology for taking and managing payments efficiently. They aren’t dependent on inflexible hardware and they integrate smoothly with schools’ existing systems.
For more details, please contact the Pebble team today
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