Opening Schools Fund – Case Study
St Thomas Moorside School in Oldham explain how their Thursday Club, supported by Opening School Facilities fund, provides one of the only physical activities many children do outside the school day.
St Thomas’ is a voluntary aided primary school that is based in Sholver in Oldham, an area that’s listed in the top 10% for areas of deprivation nationally.
A survey in 2021 showed that only 15% of our children attended any structured physical activity outside of school, mainly due to finance, transport, and local opportunities.
We work closely with our children and parents to create a safe hub for all, and wanted to improve this figure, but delivering a physical activity programme required funding. We successfully applied for funding in a previous Opening School Facilities Funding round in 2021 and began an evening club, at a time when school would normally be closed, to allow our children to attend in a familiar and safe place.
The children would be able to attend ‘Thursday Club’ from 5-7pm and take part in sport and physical activity, have some warm soup, and be with their friends. We got staff in place, and the club was a big success with 30-40 children taking part each week with more than 70 participants taking part at some point during the programme. At the end of the funding, we used school budget to keep the sessions running but continuing this, without charging the families, was going to be extremely tough.
The children loved the club and spoke very positively about it.
“I love attending the Thursday Evening Club. I get to do lots of sport with my friends every week when I would otherwise be sat at home.”
Emeli, Year 5
“I am so excited for more evening activities at school. I can’t wait to attend them all.”
Caden, Year 4
For many, this club is their only physical activity that they do outside of the normal school day.
Lauren Whaley, Active Young People Lead at GreaterSport, supported our application for the third phase of Opening School Facilities (OSF) funding to ensure we continued to be the hub of our community.
We spoke to parents and children before putting together a development plan to expand our offer through outdoor adventure activities and a community gym for our children.
Pupils requested boxing and martial arts to be included in Thursday Club moving forwards and, in 2024-25, we plan to introduce a yoga activity to reduce isolation among parents and local adults.
Adam Young, PE Lead at St Thomas Moorside School, said:
“The OSF funding has provided us with an exciting opportunity that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. The impact the delivery will have on our families will be massive.
“For some of our children, school is their one constant and the more provision we can provide for them the better. The OSF fund has allowed us to provide exciting activities for our children and families.”
Parent Tammy Stanway said:
“What the school are providing for our children is amazing.
“They really do care and want to provide our kids with opportunities that they probably wouldn’t get. Aaron and Porche really enjoy the activities and can’t wait for the next one.”
Lauren Whaley, Active Young People Lead at GreaterSport, added:
“Stories like this from St Thomas Moorside show why this work is vital and why we’re thrilled to be working with 57 schools over the next few years through the Opening School Facilities fund.
“We have so many fantastic school leaders who understand the benefits their school facilities can play within the community and we will work with them to open more schools’ sites across Greater Manchester.
“This will expand access for children, young people, their families, and the local community in a safe place near to where they live and a time which is convenient to them.”
Steven Nield, Sport Development Officer at Oldham Council, said:
“It is great to see the opportunities that the Opening School Facilities funding is creating for children and young people in Oldham, and in our communities, to move more outside of the traditional school day."