Creating School and Community Links
If you want your club to thrive, links with your local community, schools (including special schools and Specialist Teaching Facilities), colleges and universities are essential. Before you look into creating these links, it’s worth remembering that clubs have a responsibility to be accessible to all people, this essentially means considering the needs of all individuals in delivering their services. To assist you in ensuring your club is accessible, visit our page on 'Equality'
Why should we make them?
- Most communities don’t know the clubs in their area even exist – this is a great way to spread the word
- Youngsters are more likely to get involved if there is some familiarity – if they’ve already seen the club coaches in school, they are more likely to attend the club
- Schools and clubs can work together to promote local sporting opportunities much more effectively
- It might open up access to school facilities, equipment and other resources
- It might attract sponsorship or funding such as Communities First
- It can result in the new volunteers
For schools, it can:
- Mean more active, healthier pupils and provide a sporting pathway with easy exit routes for children
- Help raise profile within the community
- Raise the performance standard in school teams
- Promote the school as an institution that supports development beyond the school environment
- Lead to support and assistance with extra-curricular teams and activities
For young people, it can:
- Help them move confidently between school and club
- Provide chances for talent to be identified and nurtured
- Mean the opportunity to develop coaching and leadership skills
- Serve as an introduction to healthy living
How can Club – School Links Work?
The most important thing to remember is that good communication between both parties is vital.
It’s helpful to organise an initial meeting between the school and the club to work out what the relationship might look like and to agree a mutual commitment. A programme of regular, progress meetings is also a good way to review the link.
What the club can do:
- Assign a liaison contact and provide the school with information and promotional material about the club
- Run a festival/display at the school
- Provide coaches to assist with the extra-curricular clubs (even if it’s just once a term)
- Link with the School’s 5x60 Officer to help assist links with primary schools
- Run a satellite club on the school site for a term to help create familiar surroundings for the children. After that term, children attend the normal club night and venue. This approach gives them time to become familiar with the type of training and the coaches
What the school can do:
- Promote the club within the school – maybe immediately after a unit of work that matches the sport or during after school clubs
- Provide facilities for the club to run sessions
- Nominate a member of staff to liaise with the club
- Offer the same sports as local clubs to introduce the children to the skills in a familiar surrounding
- Distribute any club promotional material
- Invite club coaches to speak in school assemblies or at PTA meetings so that everyone is aware of what’s on offer.
It’s really worth spending some time on spreading the word of your club within your community.
If you’re just starting out, it’s essential that local people know the club exists. But even if you’re established, you will still need to raise awareness.
- putting up posters or flyers at the local community centre, leisure centre, library, shops or businesses
- offering taster sessions as a way to encourage local people to join your club
- promoting the club on local, community Facebook pages
- encouraging your members to spread the word – via social media and, of course, word of mouth!
Open days and competitions
Open days and competitions are a great way to cement your place in the community.
You can use them to build relationships with decision makers, local businesses and, of course, potential new members.
Encourage people to try a free taster session and enjoy refreshments. Promote your activities and any volunteer vacancies.
Most of all, make it fun, welcoming and appealing for people of all ages to come along.
If you’re organising an event, take a look at Sport Wales’ event planner checklist.
It’s really worth sitting down and having a chat with your local sports development or leisure team about how they can support you. You can find your local authority here.
Vale Ladies & Girls Football Club, which launched in the summer of 2012, has already become one of the largest female only clubs in South Wales having created extensive links with local schools in all areas across the Vale of Glamorgan.