How do you deliver an excellent education without sufficient

government funds? Kevin Yardley, director of income generation at The Generations Multi Academy Trust in Hertfordshire, shares his experiences

Funding the Future ‘W

hen my son came home one day and told me his school needed someone like me to

help raise money, I offered my support. The school had done a brilliant job in educating my son, who is autistic, but it was part of a trust with one of the lowest funding ratios per pupil in the country. There was a mismatch between the quality of education it aimed to deliver and the funds available – and it was looking for someone to bridge that gap. I’d started my career as a criminal

barrister and swim coach, going on to work for a national leisure provider, and then as a leisure industry consultant involved with the 2012 Olympic legacy. That entrepreneurial background meant I had the skillset to work with the school at a strategic level to generate income, primarily through lettings. Initially, I asked to work as a consultant so that I could view things as an outsider. Last year, I accepted an invitation from our executive principal, Alison Garner, to become a permanent member of the core team. Everything I do is focused on the

end goal of delivering a fantastic educational experience, both through providing better facilities and opportunities for our students,

34 AUTUMN 2021 FundEd

and by generating income from those services to feed back into education. Our young people are part of our local community, so if we’re generating income from lettings (such as after-school football and theatre groups), it’s likely that many of our students will be benefi ting from those activities.

Changing our culture The fi rst thing I did on taking up the role four years ago was to look at the commercial deals and partnerships the trust had in place, assessing what was bringing in income and

what wasn’t working. One issue was that Broxbourne Council was paying a fl at (and rather low) fee to let out our facilities. There was little benefi t to us, and the council wasn’t keen to continue because of the lack of facilities investment, and the fact that bookings were often cancelled at short notice in favour of school activities. If we wanted to generate more

income, we had to change our culture and our approach. We needed to demonstrate our support for the community on our doorstep through more effective and open communication with all stakeholders, including our staff. People don’t change unless they can see the benefi ts, so it was important to take an inclusive approach. We took back control for bookings,

introducing a new system that both our staff and external hirers had to use. It took several months to fully embed, but it’s now almost seamless. Teachers and other staff have bought into the idea that in many cases it’s our children who are attending the activities that generate our income. Moreover, the trust has become a community hub for local businesses to run health, wellbeing and cultural services which align with our ethos and educational goals.

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