The level of funding available in schools is often described as a crisis. The ‘little extras’ announced in the Autumn 2018 budget were unsurprisingly met with disappointment. Schools don’t have enough to fund their day to day operations, let alone have left over for ‘nice to haves’.
Cost-cutting in education continually hits the headlines, but there’s only so far it can go. Children still need to be educated, supported and given the best start in life. Being able to generate your own income is a positive step towards supplementing your Department of Education funding and bring in much-needed cashflow.
Generate Additional Income in Schools with Technology
Although there are several ways to bring in additional income to your school; this article will focus on generating income in the context of technology.
Sharing resources is a common way schools look to be economical. By either being part of a multi-academy trust (MAT), or formally joining up as a group of schools, both academic and support staff can be utilised to best effect across a geographic area. As well as specialised teaching staff, this can extend to expert IT technicians and engineers. A school group could generate income in this way by offering their expertise to smaller local schools for a fee. This would both enable cost-effective tech support at the smaller school and generate income for the larger school or group.
Become a Service Provider
Sharing resources extends far beyond staffing and support. A group or MAT can build a collaborative ICT hub and spoke model to service all partner schools. A central ICT team generally maintains all hardware and software at one main site. These resources are then deployed out to the other schools and the team travel to site as and when necessary.
The collaboration often starts with Internet connectivity but can also successfully incorporate network protection, web filtering, backup, server and storage, virtualisation environments, telephony, print services and any other technical service that can be centrally hosted.
Whereas economies of scale and access to enterprise-level technologies are the obvious benefits of this model, there are ways of monetising it too. With the initial investment made, the group are already acting as a service provider to their schools, there is therefore no reason not to act as a service provider for external schools. Fellow local schools may not want to join together under a management model but there is little reason why they wouldn’t want to their pupils to benefit from access to state of the art technology.
Let Out Equipment and Facilities
If a school has regularly invested in technology they will often have higher-grade resources than other commercial venues. Having a process to let out IT equipment is a great way to generate additional income when your equipment is not in use. If you have rooms with specialist set ups that can be used for corporate events, parties or community events (such as film nights) these could be let out too. A big draw that many schools have over corporate venues is free parking. An inner city hotel may not have as many available spaces for guests as a secondary school.
To make the most of commercialising this avenue it would be recommended to make a marketing document and webpage promoting available services and have dedicated contact details where enquiries can be quickly and professionally responded to.
Running at Full Capacity
In certain areas, schools are in high competition with each other for pupils. The more pupils a school has, the higher the pupil funding. Whilst operational costs remain very similar regardless of capacity, each new pupil brings an additional cash injection per year. When there is little to distinguish between schools academically and culturally, resources and facilities come into play. Being the school with the best technology in the area is an attractive draw to both parents and students; children gain an employability advantage by being exposed to professional equipment from an early age. Although upfront investment is required, this can be calculated against the value of increasing from below capacity to fully subscribed.
IT Training Sessions
If you have space and capacity amongst your team you could investigate running chargeable IT training sessions for your community. This could double up as work experience for senior computing students who would gain valuable additions to their CV.
Whereas managing procurement in-house may seem cost effective, outsourcing this to a professional purchasing service may lead to reduced costs. Resellers or solutions providers have long-standing relationships with suppliers who are able to both recommend cheaper equivalents and benefit from economies of scale. Even with their margin, this may still be a more economical approach, particularly when adding in the benefit of expertise.
While having the intention to generate income from school resources is all very well and good, financial gains should never come at the detriment to student education or safety.
Always approach any intended activities from a commercial standpoint, with a business proposal prepared to ascertain expected costs, turnover, profit/losses. You’ll need to budget for legal costs to draw up hire contracts, insurance cover for external party usage, staff costs and contracts for any extra hours.
Any activities you decide to undertake should prop up your budget and not be a relied upon as permanent funding. Situations change which is why proposals should include short, medium and long term impacts.
Where M-Tech Come In
We have extensive experience providing technology solutions and support for every stage of the education sector: Primary, Secondary, Further and Higher. We will happily work with you at any level you need; stepping in for one off projects, working together on your IT strategy, supporting your day to day operations.
We’re advocates of collaborative IT and would invite you to download our Case Study on the Bourne Education Trust. This project started in 2016 with the architecture and install of a hub and spoke model for a group of 6 academies in Surrey. The MAT are now twelve strong and continuing to add technologies to their centralised solution.
We will happily discuss any upcoming ideas or projects you may have.