Children and Young People

Opening Schools Facilities

Encouraging schools to open their facilities to the benefit of the public

Opening Schools Facilities (OSF) is a Department for Education investment programme to meet the goals of the Government’s School Sport and Activity Action Plan.

The aim is to help schools to open their existing sport facilities, including school swimming pools, for a broader range of young people and to support the wider community by partnering with sporting organisations, who can help deliver activities in these settings.

Schools can access a range of support through the programme including swimming pool support, enabling sports to be able to purchase additional sports equipment (non-fixed items only), as well helping improve accessibility to school sports facilities and providing funding for short-term staffing challenges.

The funding stream is led by the national network of Active Partnerships and is supported by ukactive, StreetGames and the youth sport trust. The hope is that all 9 regions across the country will benefit from the scheme and that more schools will be able to open their facilities outside of a normal school day to allow children & young people and the wider community to access more opportunities to be more physical active.


Group 1
Who’s it for?
Schools in Essex looking to support their community
Goal 1
Prime Objective:
to open facilities to young people and the wider community
Goal 2
Second Objective:
to identify long-term changes in behaviour, increasing activity

Thanks to the Essex approach to the Opening Schools Facilities project, the place teams at Active Essex were able to build relationships with schools and add value to local place partnership work. Active Essex also approached the project with a targeted approach, meaning that the area’s in greater need of the funding were able to access it.

Tree Tops Free School in Thurrock are one the schools that have benefitted from the funding, purchasing a number of different bits of gym equipment as well as basketball hoops, football goals and netball baskets. These were purchased to be taken advantage by local community groups. Using the gym equipment, they’ve been able to invite a specialist trainer in to teach cross fit.

schools were funded in year 2 of the project
of schools funded in year 1 were in IMD areas 1-3
projects in year 1 were swimming pool focussed
It’s great having the new equipment as it allows people in the local community of all ages and all fitness levels to be able to access more physical activity opportunities that might cost more and be more daunting elsewhere in their local area. Seeing the specialist netball group that now take advantage of the new nets on our courts shows to us how worthwhile and important accessing the funding was.
Anthony Hattam, Headteacher Treetops Free School

Key Learnings

It's important to take time to reflect and understand the learnings from work undertaken, in order to focus on ways to improve in the future.


Impact of timings

Yr 1 late launch stretched capacity and didn’t offer schools adequate planning time.



Only 3 weeks of delivery costs were able to be claimed in yr 1 and no roll over of underspend.



Schools overestimated costs with over £100,000 not claimed against planned delivery.