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Opening Up School Facilities

The project, part of Active 60, aims to improve the understanding of the current landscape as well as the barriers, solutions and success factors which are linked to school facility usage after the school day, at weekends and during the holidays.

The School Facilities Project

In March 2021, the government announced further funding for opening school facilities which allowed London Sport to distribute grants of up to £10,000 towards schools with high percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals or in areas of high inactivity.

As part of the School Sport and Activity Action Plan, the Department for Education invested into a pilot project to support schools to open their sports facilities.

During the pilot, London Sport worked to learn from schools and support them with opening their sports facilities in order to broaden the offer of extra-curricular and out-of-school sporting and physical activities available to pupils and the wider community.

For more information on this pilot project, see below.

The specific aims for the project are:

  1. Provide greater community access to school sporting facilities outside of school hours i.e. after school, at weekends and during school holidays.
  2. Increase the range of sporting and physical activities available to both the pupils at your school, and the wider community on your school site.
  3. Encourage more young people to form a physical activity habit for life.

Funding Criteria

London Sport offered schools the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £10,000 to help open or re-open their school facilities outside of school hours for local young people.

This fund, which has been provided by the Department for Education, is designed to help schools deliver extra-curricular activities and open their facilities outside of the school day during evenings, weekends and school holidays.

The strict criteria for what the funding can and cannot be used for is availabe below.

A London state funded secondary school, who:

  • Has no current (or limited) community access onsite to your school sports facilities.
  • Has a high percentage of pupils eligible for free school meals (above national average of 16.1%).
  • Is within our eight target boroughs of: Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Barking and Dagenham, Islington, Southwark, Haringey and Enfield.

NB: We will also be considering applications from other educational settings and all London boroughs. If your school is in need, please apply and detail how this funding will make a difference to your school.

As well as a potential grant of up to £10,000, you will:

  • Increase the activity levels of your pupils and local community.
  • Make connections with local organisations and National Governing Bodies looking for safe spaces for young people to be active.
  • Become part of our Open Facilities school community and have access to peer support.
  • Create sustainable change that makes best use of your current facilities and could bring income into your school for the long-term.

May: Information shared by London Sport.

Tuesday 1 June: Online applications open for schools on Tuesday 1 June.

Sunday 4 July: Application window closes at 23.59.

July: Successful schools will be contacted, and contracts signed. First phase of funding awarded and committed.

August: Schools to complete and return monitoring survey to London Sport.

September: All activities started.

September onwards: Delivery continues and final evaluation completed by schools.

  • Help for schools to meet covid-19 measures
  • The purchase of additional sports, activity, and storage equipment.
  • Improvements to the accessibility of school sports facilities
  • Additional short-term staffing
  • Help for schools to safely reopen their own, on-site swimming pool
  • Any activity delivered during curriculum time or breakfast clubs
  • Funding for wrap around care
  • Marketing, website development or maintenance
  • Capital expenditure, construction/refurbishment projects
  • Items which only benefit an individual e.g., membership fees, bursaries or kit and equipment that is not shared
  • Any expenditure by schools after 31 August 2021 or costs prior to the Award Letter date
  • Transport costs
  • Funding for any items linked to delivery that is not ready to begin by the 2nd week of September 2021 at the latest
  • Activities delivered off school premises
  • Paying teachers or teaching assistants
  • Costs that could be covered by the Primary PE and Sport Premium
  • Funding to cover the loss of revenue
  • Funding independent schools (if there is a case for an independent school where it provides substantial swimming offer to the local community, local schools then please contact us directly to discuss this further)
  • Funding for FE colleges and standalone 6th Form Colleges
  • Funding to an organisation that runs the community side of a dual use school
  • Funding to a letting agency/management company.

Learn more about our successful pilot below. London Sport will continue to update this page with resources and learnings so that all schools in London, regardless of the outcome of funding decisions, are in a position to open their facilities for community use.

Opening Up School Facilities Updates

NEWS: Funding has now closed and 84 schools have been awarded grants. In total, London Sport has distributed almost £800,000 across 23 boroughs. Read our full press release here.

NEWS: Funding is live. Schools in London are being encouraged to apply for a new London Sport fund which will support them to open or re-open their school facilities outside of school hours for local young people. Read more. Apply here.

BLOG: Strategic Advisor for Children and Young People, Gary Palmer, looks at how opening up school facilities can play a major role in getting London’s young people active post-pandemic and the data behind London Sport’s funding priorities. Read his blog in full here.

NEWS: Schools in London are to benefit from £1m of support to open their facilities to the community outside of the normal school day to allow young people more opportunities to be physical active. Read more here.

NEWS: London Sport welcomes new government funding to help schools open up sports facilities all year round. London Sport will receive part of a £1.6m government fund to assist schools open up their sports facilities all year round to boost physical activity levels in the capital. Read more here.

BLOG: Specialist Advisor for Children and Young People Gary Palmer looks at how broadening access to school’s sport facilities could be a vital piece to the puzzle of re-activating our children following the period of lockdown due to the covid-19 outbreak. Read his blog here.

OPPORTUNITY: Schools interested in opening up their facilities for greater community physical activity and sport use are invited to express their interest to London Sport using the form available. 

EXPRESSION OF INTEREST: The deadline for schools to express their interest in being part of this initial pilot closed on 1 October 2020. A review of received EoIs is due to take place 2-9 October with decisions made and communicated with schools w/c Monday 12 October.

Resources and Learnings

Pilot Project: Working with Three Croydon Schools

In Phase 1, school selection was based on appetite from the school and need (low activity levels etc). This case study looks at the lessons learned from our work with three schools.

Pilot Project: Creating a Community Boxing Club with Oasis Academy

During phase 1, we worked with Oasis Academy to support them identify activities that will appeal to their pupils as well as how to maximise the space they had available to them. 

Big thanks also to Active Partnerships who commissioned the video (right) – produced by Tale Productions – which explains a bit more about our work.

Sport England Support

Use our School is a free resource from Sport England that supports schools to open their facilities to the community.

Opening your facilities at evenings and weekends can benefit your school (raised profile and presence in the community and delivering physical and mental health benefits) and your community’s local sports clubs.

More information and contact details:

For more information around our School Facilities programme, please contact us on schoolsaccess@londonsport.org.