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By GreaterSport | 13 May 2022 | TAGS: Children and young people, Opening school facilities, schools

In February 2021, Sport England announced that Active Partnerships would be able to build on ongoing work with school facilities with a further £10.1 million investment from the Department for Education. The funding encouraged and supported more schools to open their facilities for after-school, evening, weekend and holiday use.

GreaterSport offered the opportunity for any primary, secondary or specialist schools in Greater Manchester and then worked with local partners in each borough to identify schools and communities with the most need. 86 schools received investment to open or extend their community provision and offer activities for their pupils.

We know that 40% of sporting facilities are found on school sites across England. From Active Lives results we know 6 out of 10 young people do not do enough physical activity. We are aiming to ensure school sites across Greater Manchester continue to feel supported and encouraged to in open their sites with a regular offer for their pupils and local community. On 28th March 2022, Lauren Whaley Active Young People Lead from GreaterSport hosted ‘Opening School Sites – Beyond the school day’ webinar.

The webinar brought together a range of partners from secondary, primary and dual use school sites, national and regional partners with expertise in facility use. The aim of the webinar was to hear from schools and partners as they discuss how to increase bookings, diversifying their offer, engaging with young people and working in partnership with local providers and the community to open the school sites regularly.

The webinar – structure and recordings

The session ran with an opening introduction including playing Sport England's Use our School resource introduction video, which sets the scene for this agenda.

Speaker 1: David Hunter - Head teacher St Margret’s Primary School Whalley range.
David joins Lauren at GreaterSport for Q+A regarding why opening the school site matters to his pupils.

Speaker 2: Mark Bingley - Sported North West Regional Manager. Mark talks through the topic: Sported Community Facilities Report ‘Main challenges facing community sports groups and re-engaging with young people.’

Speaker 3: Mark Storie - Astley Sports Village Director and governor at Rayner Stephens Secondary School Tameside. Mark talks through the topic Aligning partners to benefit pupils and the community.

Speaker 4: Jamie Agar - Operation’s manager active lives and physical activity Bolton Council. Jamie talks through supporting schools to promote their offer and provides specific examples of support schools have asked for.

Speaker 5: Russell Teale - Co-founder and managing director Vivify Venues. Russell talks through how opening your school in the evenings and weekends can have significant impact on your local community not to mention your admissions.

Speaker 6: Lorna Philip Hathershaw College - Essential life skills coordinator Oldham. Lorna joined Lauren for a Q+A on engaging schools in a safe space with exit routes into the community she touches on how having their site open reduces ASB on the school grounds.

Closing: Lauren takes question from attendees, where the speakers used their own experiences to answer with their advice for others and finishes with what’s next.

What next?

GreaterSport and partners continue to encourage more school sites across GM to open for use in the evening, weekend and holiday periods and provide more opportunities for more children, young people their families and the local community to access activities in a safe place, which is local to them.
Sport England’s ‘Use our school’ resources is a great starting point for any schools or partners considering opening up their site find our more here. Additionally these case studies give advice from other sites who have seen the benefits of opening up their sites across England.
We are collating the learning and case studies from the 86 funded schools and partners to provide more stories and resources to support others. Tell us what guidance of support you are looking as we aim to gather key areas we need to focus resource to for future webinars/ workshops and stories.

We would love to hear from you please share you stories, thoughts and learning regarding school use #SchoolSitesGM also visit the website or contact us [email protected] 

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