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By GreaterSport | 26 August 2021 | TAGS: schools, funding, education, Opening school facilities

Opening a school’s facility at evenings and weekends can benefit the community's local sports clubs, and it can also benefit the school directly in a number of ways by: 

  •  Raising the school’s profile and presence in the community 
  •  Contributing towards becoming, or staying, an outstanding school 
  •  Providing a vital new income stream 
  •  Delivering physical and mental health benefits. 

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. 

There are two programmes in Greater Manchester currently supporting this ambition... 

1. Open School Facilities 

87 schools across Greater Manchester have recently received a share of  over £400,000 to provide additional opportunities for over 6,000 Greater Manchester residents to take part in physical activity or sport outside of the school day.  

The funding is coming from DfE through Sport England’s Open School facilities initiative which aims to help schools open their facilities outside of the school day to the local community.  

GreaterSport have been 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. This funding will 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. A full list of the 87 successful schools will be available in due course. 

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.  

2. Open doors programme 

ukactive and Nike announced a new partnership to engage vulnerable young people in sport and physical activity over the summer holidays by unlocking school facilities across four major cities as part of the Open Doors programme (Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and London) 

Open Doors is a programme that forms part of ukactive’s Schools As Community Hubs policy – a universal model which focuses on unlocking school playing fields, halls and courts, which make up 39% of community sport facilities in the England but are usually closed or inaccessible during school holidays. 

Manchester Enterprise Academy was the chosen school to benefit from this programme in Manchester this Summer. They are currently holding a two week festival 16 – 27th August to support 12 – 15 year olds by providing more opportunities for the local community to be active (MEA). MEA are passionate that they would like to provide the facilities and opportunities for sports and activities that will be for their immediate local community. This is part of a wider plan to engage young people in extra curricular activity and engage with the local community.   

The following local deliverers have provided a variety of activities for the young people to take part in throughout the festival;  

Manchester Magic - Basketball 

Manchester United Foundation – Football 

Rio Ferdinand Foundation – Spoken word and music / arts workshops 

Tactile Arts – arts workshops to promote relaxation, stress relief, mindfulness and enjoyment 

The Manchester PE Association – multisport activities delivered by the school including skateboarding, dodgeball and cycling.   

The project is also supported by the Holiday Activity Fund (HAF) thanks to Manchester City Council and MCR Active.  

For more information on opening your school facilities or the benefits it can bring please contact [email protected]

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