Looking to let out your school premises? Unsure of where to start? Here’s our comprehensive overview of what to do.
The Whys, Whats, and Whos
Why Hire Out School Premises?
At this point, you might not be convinced that you even should hire out your premises. However, not to do so would be a huge missed opportunity.
By hiring out your premises, you are building links with the local community. This has a positive effect on community awareness, student intake, and, most importantly, student’s overall development and achievement. It can be a huge psychological boost to know that you are part of a community that extends outside of the school gates.
It’s a great way to initiate and improve parental engagement. What better way to get parents involved than to literally get them into the school grounds?
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, your school premises can and should be used to generate income for the school and boost your budgets. If you’re only using the grounds during school hours, you’re ignoring their money-making potential – money which could be used to fund school resources.
What Can I Let Out?
- Car park
- Canteen and kitchens
- Playing fields
- Art and design classrooms and equipment
- General classrooms
- Music rooms and equipment
So long as it’s not currently in use for educating pupils, it’s fair game.
Who Do I Rent To? How Do I Find Them?
It’s simple. Advertise your space’s availability, and let interested parties come to you. You could put up advertisement:
- On signage at the front of the school grounds
- In letters home
- In your customised student planners
- In local newspapers
- On Internet forums for local groups
There’s bound to be interest from the local community, whether it’s sports clubs, event managers, adult class teachers, or even the odd car boot sale. People are always looking for space to host their events.
How to Let Out School Premises
The Complete Guide
Before you start anything, you need to contact the people who make executive decisions and have the final say on what happens on school premises. In the first instance, the school governing board are in control of how school facilities are used outside of school hours, so you will need to attend one of their meetings and outline the potential benefits for the school (as listed above).
If you’re part of one, your Academy Trust also has a responsibility for the school grounds, and will need to be looped in to the process.
Together, you should decide who will manage this process. This could be your school business manager, but, as this is quite a busy role, they might want to delegate or outsource to another member of staff. If you’re especially stretched for staff time, you could even take on a lettings company to manage the process for you.
Next, you should draft up your expectations in a signed and countersigned form to make your expectations and offering clear to potential hirers. Here’s some of the things you should include:
What area(s) are you letting, and what areas of the school are out of bounds? What are the rules, and what happens if they’re broken? You need to establish all of these before you begin letting your premises.
Who do your third-party hirers contact from the school if something goes wrong?
Do they need comprehensive insurance, or is it covered by the school’s policy? If insurance is required, what liability limit will they need?
It usually would not be your responsibility to carry out background checks for anybody attendees. This is the hirer’s responsibility, unless they will come into contact with pupils in the school. It’s a good idea to mention this responsibility in your form, and, in cases where it is particularly necessary, to request proof that these checks have been undertaken.
The Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 provides some safety guidelines that can be included in your letter:
- Fire regulations and policies, along with any other emergency procedures you may have. If you’re not content that your procedures are good enough, this is the ideal time to consider carrying out a risk assessment and updating your procedures, since you will have to do this anyway.
- Any known hazards. You can also outline an expectation for the third-party hirer to inform you of any hazards they encounter while on school grounds.
- If you’re providing any equipment, such as a kiln or workshop tools, you need to ensure that the hirers know how to use these safely.
Draft all of these things out as a letter or form that is signed by the hirer and countersigned by the school, and make copies. You need to have it down in writing to be able to enforce it and prove that you have paid due diligence.
Things to Be Wary Of
Health and Safety
There’s a couple of other important points outlined by the Health and Safety at Work Act that you need to bear in mind.
Despite the prevalence of mobile phones, you should ensure that there’s a landline telephone available in the premises you are letting out in case they need to make an emergency call.
If you are providing any equipment, you should check to ensure that it’s in a safe condition. Once the hirers leave your premises, do a quick check to see if everything’s been left in good order.
If the event’s not open to the public, you don’t need a license for performance, refreshment, or alcohol. However, if alcohol or tickets are sold, the third party will need to get a temporary event notice under the terms Licensing Act 2003.
While not technically your responsibility, it’s good practice to ensure that they are aware of this, as it could throw a spanner in the works.
In general, it’s best to only let out to established organisations, such as community groups, drama societies, or sports clubs. These organisations will have the infrastructure to pay for your facilities, will want to hire your premises on a more regular basis, and will be more willing to follow the expectations you have outlined.
Also, if your school is secular and doesn’t have a religious affiliation, be wary of loaning space to faith groups. Under certain circumstances, this could appear as though the school is biased towards a particular religious or spiritual viewpoint, especially if the faith group in question is hosted at the exclusion of others.
A member of staff should be present to open and close the facilities for hirers. You should also check the terms of your school’s insurance policies, as a member of staff might need to be present during the entire hire period.
If it’s a one-off hire or first-time hire, consider having a member of staff there anyway to ensure everything goes smoothly.
But I Don’t Want to Let Out My Classroom!
Some teaching staff will have concerns about letting out school premises. These should be treated as legitimate concerns, and should be discussed on a personal basis.
Make it clear how the facilities will be used; that there will be clear-cut rules for any third-parties entering the school grounds, that their visit will be insured, and that it will be of huge benefit to the school.
This is part of the reason why you need to outline your plans ahead of time – teacher buy-in is essential to everything working smoothly.
It’s also important to note that if you are letting premises outside of school hours, the responsibility for safeguarding falls on the third party, not the school, so this should not be a concern of staff – although, obviously, you will want to do everything you can ahead of time to set up a safe environment.
If you are particularly worried about safeguarding, you could passively enforce safeguarding regulations by adding them to your drafted countersigned form – bear in mind that the third party will be associated with the school, and their actions will be taken into account by the wider community.
Typically, premises hiring regulations are set on a local basis, so make sure you check your local council guidelines before letting your school premises.