CIF bids – the importance of long-term planning

We’ve written previously on the best ways to meet the criteria for CIF funding and top tips for achieving funding success. But what about the bigger picture?

The most recent round of CIF bids resulted in a total allocation of £616 million last year. Despite this increase on the previous year’s funding allocation, of the total number of projects applied for, only 44% actually attained a funding grant.

With this in mind, academy schools will need to put their best foot forward for the 2021/22 round to increase their chance of winning funding going forward.

One thing that all academy schools benefit from – whether they are applying for CIF funding or not – is having a long-term plan in place for managing the school estate in place.

Guidance from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) places significant onus on academy schools and trusts to develop a plan for maintaining their estates.

The government’s Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS) recommends the following documentation be produced:

  • Estate vision – giving a clearly-defined view of the medium to long-term, and how this fits alongside the educational vision of the school/s.
  • Estate strategy – describing how the estate vision is to be implemented, covering the next three-to-five years.
  • Asset management plan – setting out how the estate strategy is to be achieved in greater details, listing the actions that need to be taken and in what order.

One of the main reasons for encouraging this approach is to help achieve best value and use resources as efficiently as possible. Where a long-term strategy and plan is in place, schools can achieve savings across maintenance and repair projects – obtained through the co-ordination of activities and planning of projects.

Furthermore, sometimes schools can go ahead with works that may only be a short-term fix and will need to be superseded down the line. With a strategic plan in place, this can be avoided, therefore saving significantly on costs in the long-term.

Both single-site academy schools and multi-academy trusts (MAT’s) in particular can benefit from taking a more commercial mindset when it comes to property management, and working alongside a school building consultant is the best way to achieve this.

Lea Hough are specialists in the education sector and work we work with several academy schools, multi academy trusts (MAT’s), independent schools and diocese to develop estate strategies and asset management plans. Our work assists schools to better manage their estates, developing better learning environments and helping both the school, and in turn its students, to achieve their full potential.

Please get in touch to arrange a free-of-charge site visit from one of our school building consultants or to discuss making a CIF application for the 2021/22 round.

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Telephone: 01772 458866
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Telephone: 0161 265 0070
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