November and December 2019 were extremely busy months for our team as we worked through the process of preparing and submitting CIF bids for academy school clients. This 2020-2021 round of applications was the busiest to date for our team as we submitted more CIF bids than ever before.

As we await results for this year’s applications, which is expected to be exceptionally competitive due to the smaller amount of funding available for this round than in previous rounds, and now our team have recovered from all the late nights and weekends working to complete the bids during December, we thought we would summarise some of the trends we noticed from this year’s bidding process.

First and foremost, it’s worth noting the type of projects that come under CIF funding.

The types of projects that we prepared bids for this year included the following:

  • Replacement of boiler plant
  • Replacement of central heating / distribution systems
  • Replacement of hot water plant
  • Electrical safety improvements
  • Electrical re-wiring
  • Replacement of fire alarms/detection systems
  • Fire safety improvements / fire protection works
  • Renewal of flat roofs
  • Replacement of pitched roof coverings
  • Site security / Boundary fencing
  • Safeguarding improvements
  • Expansion projects / Extensions
  • Weathertightness – external fabric improvements
  • Cladding replacement
  • Window and door replacement
  • Asbestos removal

The CIF criteria changes each year, with the way in which the bids are scored also seeing a shift in emphasis, depending on the priorities of the Department for Education (DfE) during any given year.

This year, we noticed that the CIF Portal website had received a revamp. As such an integral part of the bidding process, academy schools should look to appoint a consultant who knows their way around the CIF Portal in order to maximise their chances of success. The portal is not only used to complete online forms and upload supporting documents and ultimately submit the bids, the portal also acts as the hub of information when projects are approved. It’s important to keep the CIF Portal up to date for each project, including the submission of project monitoring forms, etc.

The CIF bidding system allows repeat bids from eligible schools – even if that school has received funding in previous years, they can submit CIF bids for different projects in the following year. Each bid is assessed on its own merit in line with the CIF grading criteria for that year, meaning previously rejected bids that have been improved and added to can also be submitted.

Alongside existing clients that we have worked with previously, we were lucky enough to submit bids for a number of new clients this time around.

We now have clients across the whole range of eligible school types – including single academies (primary schools and high schools), free schools, sixth form colleges, multi-academy trusts and special schools.

This year, we worked with schools across Lancashire, South Cumbria, Grater Manchester, Warrington, Wigan, Bolton, Pendle, Burnley, Rossendale, Rochdale, Bury, Blackpool, Chorley, Southport, Poulton-le-Fylde, Blackburn, Colne, Milnthorpe, Sedbergh, Barrow-in-Furness, Burscough and Craven to prepare and submit bids for CIF funded projects.

For more information, please contact us and ask to speak to a member of our education team.

Preston Office
Telephone: 01772 458866
Blackburn Office
Telephone: 01254 260196
Clitheroe Office
Telephone: 01200 320040
Lancaster Office
Telephone: 01524 899850
Manchester Office
Telephone: 0161 265 0070
Lea Hough is a trading name of Lea Hough & Co LLP, which is a Limited Liability Partnership registered in England and Wales under partnership number OC306054.
Registered Office: Oakshaw House, 2 Capricorn Park, Blakewater Road, Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 5QR