As we enter stage three of the Government’s roadmap to recovery, we spoke to Lynda Jackson, Director of Finance at Holmer Green School, Buckinghamshire about how they have already successfully reopened their school to community lettings, with the assistance of our BookingsGuru service.
“At the start of the pandemic, our main concern was the loss of groups, activities and support for young people. We have seen in school how young people have been affected by the pandemic either physically, mentally or socially, and we are reminded just how important additional, out of school activities can be for their general wellbeing.
The wellbeing of our school and wider community is so important to us, we were keen to reopen our facilities to external lettings as soon as was possible, as the lockdowns eased. We reopened briefly back in November following the first national lockdown and are now fully up and running, as guidelines permit, offering a diverse programme of activities to users and opportunities for local providers to restart their businesses. The fact that we generate income from hiring out our facilities is a bonus as this means we can re-invest this into the school and our pupils, but the wellbeing of our wider community is very much key.
We have been very happy with the support of Kajima’s Guru Team to get our lettings back up and running as quickly as possible, so that we could once again support our community users. The Team handled everything from; notifying our hirers of our reopening date and finalising their booking details, gathering essential COVID-specific risk assessments from all of our hirers, providing COVID cleaning protocols and suggested simple changes to our site operations to ensure we were complying with the Government’s guidelines.
Engaging with the Guru service offers us great peace of mind as they have a dedicated team, experienced in overseeing school lettings and they work with schools across the country, meaning we can take advantage of best practices amongst our peers. In addition, unlike some other similar services we considered, we like the fact that all of the hire income is collected into the school’s bank account, giving the school financial control without the burden of managing bookings, invoicing, chasing payments and marketing our available facilities. Despite the period of furlough the communication from the team has been good and the arrangement is working well for the school and our hirers are happy too!
Later in the year, we will be introducing a new ‘air dome’ for our students and community to make use of. The air dome has been erected over our external tennis courts allowing them to be used year-round by the both the school and external users. The facility has already allowed us to manage operations during the pandemic, giving is an extra space to ensure social distancing amongst our students – we simply couldn’t have managed without it. It is a truly amazing sports facility and we can’t wait to start hiring it out to our community.
There is such a shortage of all-weather tennis and netball facilities in the area that we already have interest from a local tennis club and I am sure we will gain much more interest, once the Guru team start to market the new facility on our behalf.”
The school decided to engage with Kajima’s BookingsGuru lettings administration and marketing service during 2020 and are seeing a steady increase in their community engagement, with over 20 groups benefiting from their outstanding facilities and growing their income by XX%.
BookingsGuru Key Contracts Manager, Jill Carrington commented: “It has been a challenging time gaining new hirers at Holmer Green due to the national lockdowns as well as the large amount of building work going on at the School, as they increase their intake and make improvements to some of their facilities.
In September there will be a brand new sports hall which will be able to accommodate a wider variety of bookings as the old hall was much smaller. This space is currently being refurbished to become the new dining hall which will also be available to hire for activities such as children’s parties and group gatherings. There will also be a brand new dance studio with sprung floor, mirrors and ballet Barres which is due to be completed in November – we’ve already had a lot of interest from new and current hirers who would like to make use of this fantastic new facility.”
To find out how our BookingsGuru service could help your school successfully manage its community lettings visit www.bookingsguru.co.uk.