Condition Improvement Funding (CIF) for Academies

Graeme Race
CIF is an annual bidding cycle for eligible academies and sixth-form colleges to apply for capital funding to address significant condition needs, or to assist with overcrowding or expansion of existing facilities. In a climate where all schools are being challenged to provide cost-effective, high-quality facilities that improve the learning experiences for pupils, successfully accessing any available funding is vital.

CIF provided £514million of funding in 2018/19 for 1,556 projects at 1,299 academies and sixth-form colleges. The fact that this equates to a bid success rate of 30% is key to understanding that the employment of an appropriately experienced construction consultant is fundamental to academies’ chances of gaining a slice of the funding.

In 2018/19, Faithful+Gould were employed by the Department for Education as one of two consultants responsible for assessing academy bids, and as such we have a detailed knowledge of the strict requirements which are necessary to provide a successful bid document. These, along with key drivers, are:

  • Project need (type and urgency of the project being the key driver)
  • Project cost (value for money being the key driver)
  • Project programme (evidence of detailed delivery plans being the key driver)

I personally led the delivery team of this assessment programme, supported by my team in Newcastle, together with other offices in Birmingham, Nottingham, Bristol and Leeds. In Newcastle, we have been providing academy funding consultancy since 2011/12.

The bidding process has been a dynamic one, as the number of academies wishing to access funding has grown, meaning that the guidelines for applicants are much more prescriptive with greater emphasis being placed on fully evidencing project need, cost and delivery plan. The funding process is much more competitive with a greater number of applicants, and as such the chances of approval are much lower, which is where our advice becomes invaluable.

Faithful+Gould’s consultant role includes navigating the funding route and providing professional reports in support of CIF applications. Our experience enables us to target the elements most likely to meet the funding criteria, whilst also identifying those areas which can create those marginal gains in scoring, which may previously have been missed.

Our initial consultations identify the key drivers for the potential bids, and then we take the lead in the production of bid documentation, which maximises scoring potential and increases the likelihood of the proposed works being funded.

Our role, however, becomes even more important once an academy’s application is successful. Appointing Faithful+Gould to design and manage the construction process through to completion, ensures projects are delivered in harmony with the funding allocation and delivery plan submitted as part of the application. Where applications are successful, professional fees are always included as part of the funding allocation, meaning that our appointment does not come at a direct cost to the academy itself.

Recent successful applications have resulted in funding for:

  • Roof covering replacement (inclusive of insulation upgrades)
  • Window replacement works
  • Mains heating/boiler replacement works
  • Electrical switchgear, wiring and lighting upgrades
  • Fire alarm replacement
  • Wholesale block refurbishment
  • Classroom extensions to ease overcrowding
  • School house conversion to media suite
  • Sports hall refurbishment

We have an outstanding track record of achieving successful CIF applications with millions of pounds secured for academies across the UK, and an unrivalled knowledge of how to put together successful applications. We take the lead on the application, allowing academies to concentrate on what they do best.

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