How can your academy school generate additional income?

22 February 2018

There have been a number of recent articles in the press surrounding the challenges being faced by academy trusts, particularly when looking ahead at funding cuts coupled with increasing costs, and the negative impact this has on future cashflows and budgeting.

A recent Observer investigation found that six out of ten of the top academy trusts in the country have raised warnings over pressures on pay, staffing levels, building maintenance, and increasing deficits.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a two-part blog series to look at both generating additional income and cutting costs. This blog explores ways in which an academy can generate additional income.

Generating additional income

The key source of income for an academy is its funding from the Department for Education (DfE) and unfortunately very little can be done here, which is why academies need to start looking further afield to find opportunities elsewhere.

Other revenue streams created by academies can become significant, and therefore ensuring that your academy is capitalising on its potential income streams is important, and could become vital to its sustainability.

Increasing revenue doesn’t always mean working harder or increasing costs, sometimes this just means looking at your existing assets and making them work to create more income for you.

Sporting facilities – most schools in the country have some form of sporting facility, whether this is a football pitch, tennis court, swimming pool, gymnasium or even a sports hall. These are likely used on a daily basis by the academy, contributing toward the education of its pupils, but are they being fully utilised during the evenings, weekends and school holidays? Could it be practical to hire these out? As an example of this, one school I have worked with regularly hires out their sports hall for wedding receptions.

Boardrooms and meeting facilities – I find that the schools I have visited over the years have always been well equipped when it comes to projectors, big screens, flip charts, interactive boards, etc. and in addition to this, there are certainly no shortages of tables and chairs. Could a room be set up ready for hire? The reason this crossed my mind is because I have recently been looking at running some in-house training sessions and need to hire a room to facilitate this – a school would be the perfect setting.

Catering – for schools with an in-house catering function, could there be a possibility to provide an external catering service? Examples of this could be providing meals to other local schools, nurseries, colleges, etc. or even on an ad hoc basis for events, business lunches, etc.

Car parks – if schools are near a local sporting or events venue, or even a town centre, additional income can be made by opening up the car park or, it could be used on a weekend for a range of other activities, such as driver training, car boot sales or fundraising events.

IT staff and equipment – one academy I have worked with has a number of IT technicians who not only look after the IT needs of their own academy but also have service level agreements with local primary schools to manage their IT functions. As for equipment, I can never seem to get my home printer to work, so printing out forms, letters or even boarding passes can become a real pain. It probably wouldn’t take much effort to provide a same-day printing service which could be managed by the admin and reception staff.

To combine both staff and equipment, I know of schools in my local area that hold workshops to introduce the use of computers, email, the internet, Word and Excel, website building, etc.

Advertising space – does part of your school building or fence face a main road, or another prominent position? Could advertising space be sold to local businesses? Even if it meant giving away space to secure work experience placements, or have someone come in and talk to the students about their business and experiences, it could be worth doing.

Transportation – if your school has minibuses, coaches or even a van – could these be hired out when not in use to generate additional income?

And finally… room for a helipad? I heard probably one of the most innovative ideas recently, which was that one school built a helipad on their land to help generate additional income – that really is thinking outside the box!

Click here to read part two of this blog.

As with any type of business income generated by an academy, depending on the level of income there may be VAT and tax implications – to find out more, please contact your usual UHY adviser or nearest academy schools specialist.