Schools are under increasing pressure not only to uphold standards of education, but also to maintain school facilities. Schools are expected to plan for building maintenance to ensure they are safe, warm, weatherproof, and that they provide a suitable teaching and learning environment. These buildings and estates also need to be secure, as schools have to safeguard their pupils and equipment, so fencing and gates have to be maintained as well.
However, many schools have reported problems such as leaking roofs, broken fencing, inadequate heating, poor lighting, and damaged doors and windows not being repaired.
A recent survey by Teacher Tapp found that staff in 40% of British secondary schools had reported buckets being used to catch drips from leaking roofs. Also, the same survey found that 46% of teacher respondents from state schools believed their school building to be in a state of disrepair.
So, why is this? It’s simple – spending on schools and education has been reduced. Last year it was calculated by the Labour party that 40% less money had been allocated by the government for the maintenance of school buildings between 2011-2019. And further cuts are expected.
What can schools do? It’s difficult for schools already stretched to their limits to see a way out of this financial struggle. They have a duty to maintain school facilities and provide suitable education for their pupils in a safe and secure environment, but many have run out of ideas for cost-cutting and money-saving ideas. Some schools have resorted to consultants to help them find ways to save money, resulting in some controversial economies, including:
Closing early on a Friday
This shortens the school week to 4.5 days and saves money on teaching assistants, lighting, heating etc and can save up to £35,000 a year, which is the equivalent to the average teacher’s salary.
Reducing lunch portions
Some schools have resorted to serving up smaller portions of food to their students in a bid to save money.
Support staff teaching instead of supply teachers
Another controversial move is for schools to utilise their support staff including teaching assistants and cover supervisors to teach classes for absent teachers. Some have even been advised by consultants to put up to three classes together into the lunch hall and have them taught by one member of support staff.
Reducing the variety of subjects taught
Many subjects not considered ‘core’ could be dropped to reduce teaching specialists and therefore costs. Subjects such as geography, art, drama, and music have been deemed to be non-essential subjects.
Swapping teachers for support staff or unqualified teachers
Instead of replacing qualified teachers – especially those on the upper pay scale – it has been suggested to employ more teaching assistants, cover supervisors and unqualified teachers with the potential of saving tens of thousands of pounds a year.
Creating more zero-hour, part time, fixed term, and term-time only contracts
Another cost-cutting exercise is to employ more staff on less secure contracts with not as favourable terms.
Asking parents for donations
Some schools have had to blatantly ask parents for a donation to keep the school running. But schools in poorer areas may have parents who don’t have spare money to donate, which means their children are at a disadvantage compared to those in wealthier areas.
Many of these cost-cutting initiatives are either not suitable, morally dubious, or not best practice and will result in a poorer education for students and a demoralised workforce. So, is there another way for schools to generate income to make repairs to their buildings and estates without damaging the education standards or demoralising their staff? In a word, yes.
School estates are rich in resources such as halls, fields, sports pitches and courts, libraries, technology suites, gyms, swimming pools, which could all be potential revenue streams for the school. However, schools may not have up to date equipment and may not be able to afford to upgrade in order to offer paid services to the public. That’s where Maxxia can help.
Whilst we aren’t able to provide funds to repair the roof for example, Maxxia can help with the funding of new equipment with leasing arrangements. We can help with leasing for things such as:
Items to keep the grounds, estates, and buildings fully equipped and up to standard:
- Cleaning equipment
- Grounds maintenance equipment
- IT and technology equipment
Solutions for extra student numbers:
- Modular buildings to house larger classes and extra students
- Furniture to make best use of extra rooms and temporary buildings
Extra security features to keep students and staff safe:
Sport and fitness equipment that improves the school and gives the option for a revenue stream through renting to the public:
- Sports pitches
- Gym equipment
- Swimming pools
Green technology to help bring daily running costs down without major work:
- LED lighting
- Solar power
So, if you’re a school leader or manager and are looking for funding or leasing options to improve your school buildings and estate, Maxxia can help. Whether you need a leasing arrangement to upgrade to the latest computing technology or you need a new tennis court or swimming pool we can offer cost-effective, compliant and transparent leasing for your school.
Or maybe you’re looking for funding to upgrade your sports pitches and courts, in order to rent them out to the public to create an income stream to make repairs, improve, and maintain your school estate? We can help with that too.
We can also help if you want to go green and reduce your carbon footprint while being as economic as you can with what you already have.
Whatever your need, Maxxia can work with you to achieve a solution. Get in touch with our education funding department right now and let us help you maintain school facilities more easily.