Our head has a PE background and was looking for ways to encourage activity and help students develop their social and interpersonal skills. She was keen on performing arts and dance – so PQA, which provides performing arts tuition for four to 18-year-olds around the country, was a natural fit.
We let out our dance and drama studios as a local base for PQA so it can provide weekend tuition to the local community, many of whom are our pupils. As well as this, the academy has offered work experience to our students, plus extra support in preparation for drama exams.
Our partnership with PQA has helped pupils develop vital communication skills and given them access to workshops and experiences that the school would not have otherwise been able to provide. It's had an incredibly positive impact on the self-esteem and confidence of our pupils.
We also let out our facilities to other community groups, including sports clubs, an MS recovery group and language tuition classes. In addition, we've hosted evenings such as Bollywood and ballroom nights, as well as religious events during half-term. We charge enough to cover our costs but don't overcharge – we want to provide good value for money.
Last year, we entered Kajima Community's Open Your Space Awards after reading about it on our School Lettings Solutions (SLS) account. After submitting a statement explaining how our facilities benefit the community, we were awarded the top prize of £8,000. This has been invested back into performing arts by replacing our theatre stage, lights and sound system. We meet regularly with SLS, who promote our facilities, help supplement our income and assist us in keeping touch with local communities.'
Bernie Shea, business manager, Amersham School, Amersham, Buckinghamshire (882 pupils)