Estates Management for Schools and Academy trusts

Terry Stocks
Whilst a one size fits all approach is not the solution, there are some core principles to Estate Management that can be applied and flexed for success.

Why is Estates Management important?

Your estate should provide a safe, warm and decent environment to deliver education. To ensure it is safe there are statutory checks and registers that must be undertaken, maintained and actioned, some examples of these include: asbestos management, fire risk assessments and statutory insurance inspections. The mechanical plant or building fabric will have a major impact on the running of your school, for example if boilers or roofing fail the school might need to close. It is easy to divert funding away from estates as the impact of underfunding may not be felt immediately. However, underfunding will increase the degradation of the estate and mechanical and electrical services, which are then more likely to fail on a larger scale impacting the school to a greater effect.

School Estate Funding

School estate funding is made up of many different pots and is dependent on the size of your organisation. Therefore, it is important to plan and allocate spending carefully. This may require a centralised rather than a devolved process of estate financial allocation and planning. The board may have to spend more on school A than on School B in any given year to better address identified issues. To do this Schools need to know the condition of their estate to help plan and spend their allocated funding more effectively and help to draft better funding bids to programmes such as CIF.

Department for Education (DfE) Top Ten List

The Department for Education (DfE) have issued a top ten list of things academy boards should be aware of and be able to evidence adherence to. Academy trusts with large numbers of schools will likely have full time estates leads and the depth of planning and delivery of the DfE requirements will be more detailed than a small academy chain with a low number of schools.

What are the DfE 10 key questions:

  1. Are we managing the estate effectively?
  2. Who is responsible for the estate?
  3. Do we have the necessary skills, knowledge and capacity to manage the estate?
  4. How do we manage the estate?
  5. What is the condition of the buildings?
  6. Are we complying with our legal responsibilities?
  7. What do we do in emergencies?
  8. What funding is available for investment in the estate?
  9. Are we spending wisely on the estate?
  10. Can we become more efficient with our expenditure?

How to demonstrate this?

To manage and demonstrate the above for a board or MAT management team can appear daunting. However, a managed approach prioritising the documents that will add most value will help to focus delivery priorities. The depth of each document will vary depending on the size of your organisation and the age of the estate. Here are some tips:

  • Recording your aspirations for the delivery of education from an estate’s perspective will help investment prioritisation and support funding applications.
  • Understanding what estates data is available also helps better risk management. For instance, if there is out of date or missing condition information or asbestos / fire risk assessment information has not been updated or is out of date, a board and management team knows there could be a risk they are unable to manage.
  • Knowing what you ‘do not know’ is the first step to managing your risk. The Department of Educations ‘Good Estate Management’ resources are available to reference on their webpages at:

An academies management team and board should champion a good estates management structure and process. They will have a wide remit of responsibility and will not generally have time to deal in depth with estates planning and detailed risk management.

Faithful+Gould have been working in the education sector for many years and have developed services and tools to support cost effective and compliant estates management and project delivery. Faithful+Gould have developed intuitive dash board reports for management and board members to quickly assimilate the state of their estate and direct actions to better manage the operational and statutory risk and compliances that falls to them.

Click here to understand where your organisation is on the Department for Education Good Estate Management criteria, using our free assesment tool.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/good-estate-management-for-schools

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/good-estate-management-for-schools-tools

 

 

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