Hiring out the school hall: 6 key points Schools must know before allowing external use of facilities

Hiring out school facilities to local sports clubs, other schools or business groups can be a great way for schools to give back to their local community and monetise their assets outside of school hours. Getting this right generates goodwill, positive reputation and revenue. Getting it wrong can generate frustration, administrative burden and regulatory questions.

This article highlights six key points for schools to consider when hiring out facilities.

MO1359 and child safety

The school environment is the school campus, used during and outside school hours. This means the Greek school using your school’s facilities on Saturdays is in your school environment, as is the local sporting club using your oval and changerooms. Further, MO1359 does not limit a school governing authority’s obligations to students enrolled in the school. MO1359 also applies to children in the school environment.

VRQA Guidelines

The Victorian Registration & Qualification Authority (VRQA) Guidelines to the Minimum Standards and Requirements for School Registration require arrangements for the external hire of school facilities to be recorded in writing and subject to commercial terms.

Hire fees

It goes without saying that both the hire fee and the payment terms must be clearly stated in any hire agreement. For compliance with the Guidelines, it is important that hire fees are set at market rates.

Other related points which should be considered include:

  • Do hirers need to pay a deposit to secure their booking?
  • Do you require hirers to pay a security deposit? And if so, in what circumstances can the security deposit be withheld by the school?

Facility area

It is essential that everyone know specifically what facilities the hirer will be entitled to use and when.

  • Does hiring the school lecture theatre include use of the school’s sound and lighting equipment?
  • Does hire of the gymnasium include basketball equipment?

These issues should be explicitly addressed in the hire agreement.

Our experience suggests another minor detail can prove very important – clarify where cars attending the event should (and should not) be parked. Headaches of this kind can be easily avoided by making expectations clear in the hire agreement.

Risk management

External hire of school facilities attracts a level of risk. Public liability matters are at the forefront – who is responsible for personal injury occurring during the hire period? What about property damage? Hire agreements should include provisions allocating risk and responsibility for these matters, as well as provisions requiring hirers to comply with school policies and directions as to use of the facility.

Schools should also ensure that every hirer provides evidence of appropriate insurance prior to the hire event.

Use of the school’s name

Consider whether the school is happy for its name to be used by the hirer organisation (think “ABC College Basketball Club”) and what conditions you wish to impose on such use. Reputational factors are key, and you want to be sure that you have appropriate control over how the school name is used. Ensuring your agreement deals with the topic of naming rights will minimise the potential for issues to arise in this regard.

What is the right balance?

We don’t advocate for hire agreements that are longer than a Microsoft software licence. The answer is not in a longer document, but a smarter system. We believe in good process, clear terms and flexibility. The best set up will deliver a template document(s) for your school, including a policy, which can be used to streamline how you manage external hiring arrangements.

How we can help

The team at Moores is experienced in helping our school clients design processes and documents that manage external hiring arrangements, including compliance with current VRQA Guidelines. Get in touch with us and we’ll help you to get your facility hire arrangements right first time.

Contact us

Please contact us for more detailed and tailored help.

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