An award-winning initiative at a North London School has engaged the whole community by recognising the needs of all.
By David Arminas
29 October 2009
An award-winning initiative at a north London school has engaged the whole community by recognising the needs of all
Kajima Community is part of Kajima Partnerships Limited (KPL), a subsidiary of Kajima Europe. KPL has five school projects designed and built under the management of KPL as private-finance initiative projects. There are three secondary schools, six primary schools, a centre of learning for children from the age of four to 18 and an education village combining primary, secondary and special needs schools.
In 2008 Ofsted introduced a community cohesion requirement that tests a school's ability to promote meaningful interactions between people from different backgrounds. For this the school is inspected not only on academic achievement but also on its role in the community outside of the curriculum and the traditional terms of reference of an academic establishment. To this end there is a contractual requirement between the management organisation and each local authority dictating the use of school facilities by the local community during out-of-school hours. But this is very often done on a very reactive basis, such as a caretaker opening and closing the school to visitors.
Kajima, in its award-winning initiative at Haverstock School in the London Borough of Camden, has developed a strategic plan to engage the community while recognising the needs of all of their customers in such a complex environment.
Importantly, the initiative is self-funding with an emphasis on generating income from members of the public, private clubs and commercial organisations. Profit from the activities is then re-invested to enhance the facilities and encourage use by diverse sections of the community.
Kajima has sat down with school management and the local community to assess priorities for these extracurricular activities but without jeopardising the school's core activities of teaching and its out-of hours programme. The Kajima team actively markets the school to those groups and organisations that could use the school facilities to their full potential.
This impacts not just on the management of bookings but also the FM service provision as security, health and safety of visitors, lighting and heating need to be maintained at all times whilst there are visitors on site as well as maintaining the asset. Throughout, Kajima has constantly worked closely with FM services provider Mitie for a blend of leisure management and school FM.
Three Kajima Community employees work full-time a Haverstock. Community manager Jason Stocks is coordinator of programmes and engages directly with community groups to generate interest using Haverstock facilities. Sadia Kassim, team assistant, oversees bookings, equipment organisation and invoicing. Assistant manager Pullen Agbon-ifo interfaces with Mitie to ensure that activities take place in a safe environment and advises users when they are on site. Also, leisure attendants are on hand to assist in cleaning, security, room-checks, and the setting up and taking down of equipment.
Buy-in from local groups has been impressive and success can be measured in numbers alone: more than 1,500 people week use the school. On Saturdays and Sundays over 1900 people will be on site for activities ranging from Flamenco and rock and roll dancing to basketball, badminton, football and even go-karting. The school is often hired out for one-off events such as birthday parties and weddings that push the number of users per week to nearly 4,000.
KPL believed in the project from the start and took an annual risk of £50,000 at the beginning, deducted from the unitary charge to set up the scheme. But the project is now generating enough income to cover costs of the team, administration, equipment and marketing costs with the goal being to enhance the relationship with the customer. Any surplus funds are shared equally between Kajima Partnerships with Haverstock School at the end of the year.
Such projects can never stand still and improvements are constantly being made especially taking into consideration comments by users. One regular customer voiced a concern over cleanliness in some of the sports halls. As children use the halls in significant numbers during the day, Kajima Community worked with Mitie to change the cleaning roster so the areas are clean for every session.
Feedback from the customer surveys has lead Kajima Community to invest in a more information-based website that will soon include online payments for regular users and include a customer-comment section.
Much of the project's success has come from working in a close partnership with Mitie. During the past two years only been two reportable accidents have occurred requiring notification under RIDDOR, the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995.