Tech company launches to help schools with budget battles

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A fledgling tech business from Warwickshire has launched a booking software that enables schools to take control of their own after school club programmes.

The company, Onside Live, says that as pandemic budget cuts cause further spending battles and with the schools catch-up funding slashed from £15bn to £1.4bn, school leaders have come under increasing pressure to find extra revenue streams.

Onside Live has launched to enable schools to run their own wraparound care businesses, instead of outsourcing them.

It is the brainchild of founding trio Richard Butler, Mark Morrey and Tom Sidwell, and an offshoot of Onside Coaching, the children’s activities and childcare business they have been running in the region for 20 years.

Director Mark Morrey said: “We’ve launched Onside Live to help as many schools as possible generate an income from running their own provision. It’s never been more needed.

“Primary schools know the benefits of running their own provision, but are reluctant to take on the challenge of running their own after school club programmes or out of hours clubs as managing the admin is such a daunting prospect. We provide the software they need to deal with admin but, just as importantly, we consult on how to set up a profitable business with longevity.”

Based on a typical single form entry primary school of 210 children, Onside Live calculates that running a wraparound care business can generate sales of between £75,000 – £100,000, and an annual net profit upwards of £40,000.

“That’s enough for a class teacher or additional support staff. The potential in larger schools is actually quite staggering,” Morrey said.

Priors Field Primary School in Kenilworth is one of the early adopters of the model after being let down by a wraparound supplier in the middle of the pandemic. They made the decision to take the service in-house in June 2020, and have since turned a profit in the first year of operation.

Katy Braley, deputy headteacher at Priors Field School, said: “We were hugely overwhelmed, but with the help of Onside Live we were able to see a clear vision of where our club could go and what it could do for our community. Rainbow Club now serves around 140 children across the week which represents two thirds of pupils on roll.  The money we bring in allows us to think about making improvements to our ageing 1970s building, and more aspirational projects like improving the sports fields or creating a nurture room; everything that will make our school an even better place to be.

“It’s inevitable we’re going to see real spending cuts across the entire public sector as a result of the pandemic, yet we’re already seeing requirements for children’s mental health and SEND services increase, and that costs money. School leadership now needs to think more innovatively about how to fund for the next three years, and taking our wraparound care in-house has been a revelation for us.”