The Impact of School Lettings: A Star Academies Story
Star Academies is a leading multi-academy trust that runs a growing network of primary and secondary schools, with clusters in Lancashire, West Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, the West Midlands, and London. As well as achieving outstanding academic results, Star schools are deeply committed to enhancing social mobility and raising the aspirations of children and young people in areas of social and economic deprivation and improving wellbeing in their communities. We are proud to partner with this incredible multi-academy trust on delivering school lettings across many of their academies.
Recently we caught up with Matt Little, Procurement Manager on the impact he has seen since working with Vivify.
What was the main challenge with school lettings for Star Academies before starting with Vivify?
Before starting with Vivify, we used to run our own lettings programmes in some of our schools, but not consistently, and maybe not to their best capacity. Initially we did it to provide access to our local communities and generate income for the schools, as opposed to thinking strategically around what's the longer-term goal and vision for us.
Having suitable security on site outside of the school day had sometimes been an issue in the past. Now, with regular use of our facilities outside of school hours incidents of anti-social behaviour have declined simply due to people being on site. There were also capacity issues to make the most of our community lettings. We needed a supplier who could not only bring business in, but ensure that the use of the facilities was well-managed and safe.
That’s why we needed a partner who could respond professionally and appropriately and support our schools. Working with Vivify, our school lettings are better managed and it is now a more structured operation. As a result, we see more and more people from the local community come through our doors. Working with Vivify has created a growth opportunity that we weren’t able to fully capitalise on without external support.
Why did you choose to outsource community lettings to Vivify Venues?
What sets Vivify apart from the others, is the connection and alignment of vision and values to ours. It’s not only about letting our facilities but also about benefiting and supporting the people around us. Vivify was, by far, the supplier that seemed to understand this the best, as well as what the trust was trying to achieve.
Vivify understood the community side of things, and the need for diversity in what we're doing. We believed they were going to work with us to achieve our goals, which is important. When you're trusting somebody with your school, you want to know the people in charge of this are trustworthy, professional, and supportive.
We are very proud of our schools and the important roles they play in their communities, and we want them to be treated with the respect that they deserve. Knowing that the facilities are going to be treated and used as if they were their own provides us with peace of mind.
As a multi-academy trust, how did you find the onboarding process with Vivify?
The onboarding process was positive. We’ve had consistency with the operations and customer experience team, which has been great.
We laid out exactly what we wanted, including our KPIs, and how we wanted the partnership to work. With any operation like lettings, there can sometimes be teething problems, but the response has been so quick and Vivify has always worked closely with us and our schools to overcome anything that’s cropped up.
Some of your schools are PFI schools, does that present additional challenges?
The challenges that come along with PFIs, can be the maintenance regime and the hours, as often there's dedicated hours that staff from the PFI providers will be on site. There can be additional charges if schools require use of the facilities outside the agreed hours. Therefore, from a lettings perspective, there can be restrictions, but nothing we haven’t been able to overcome. Site staff recruitment is crucial because it's not just about having anyone on site. It's about having somebody who will know the right thing to do and will prioritise the safety of customers, as well as representing the school positively and building strong relationships with people on site. Vivify have a robust recruitment process that supports this.
What impact has community lettings had on your schools and pupils?
Through lettings, we have created a route for our schools to be more actively involved in the community by offering more than we’ve done before. We’ve also seen an increase in pupil engagement, as they now have additional afterschool clubs, and opportunities to be involved in.
Where does any revenue generated go?
From a financial point of view, the money goes directly into the school's account and currently it is a great contingency fund for unforeseen expenses or for improvements. The recent increases in energy bills are an example, so the additional revenue is a great supporting fund.
Watch the video below to find out more about the experience of Star Academies with Vivify school lettings:
We currently partner with Star Academies on a number of their schools including Tong Leadership Academy, Bay Leadership Academy, Starbank School, Eden Boys’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham East, Eden Girls’ Leadership Academy, Birmingham and Highfield Leadership Academy.
Considering outsourcing lettings?
Here at Vivify, we understand the time pressures and financial challenges, schools are facing across the UK. A robust lettings programme can help tackle some of these issues while enhancing your school’s reputation.
If you are looking for a facility near you for your next sport, event, or game visit here.