There are many reasons why Multi Academy Trusts are attractive to join. The key one is that by working together, schools can collaborative to drive improvement across the board, using the benefits of a strong central team to remove many of the HR and administrative tasks that eat up senior leaders’ time.
Multi Academy Trusts that are performing well may look to grow their membership of schools by taking on new schools as members. Alternatively, an existing academy, small group of academies or school looking to become an academy may make an approach to a Multi Academy Trust to become a member.
The process of admitting new schools to a MAT is not a short one, and involves several stages of applications and due diligence.
One stage of due diligence that MAT’s would be advised to consider is having a Condition Survey Report conducted on the academy or school that is due to join them. By taking this step, the MAT can discover whether the school they are about to take on is in good condition and well looked after, or whether the joining school building is a potential liability that will require a lot of maintenance over the next few years.
Lea Hough undertook a series of Condition Survey Reports for The Aldridge Foundation – a MAT that now includes four academies in Darwen and four academies down South, and have completed a large number of similar reports for single academies across Lancashire, Cumbria and Greater Manchester.
The process, which usually lasts around two days, involves in-depth inspections across the site of a school or academy. These inspections include: external fabric, internal fabric and external grounds and may also include assessments of mechanical, heating and electrical systems (e.g. boilers, fire alarms, lifts, etc.) where required. It is important that every part of the fabric of the building is inspected, often involving high-level inspections of roofs via cherry picker access.
The resulting report is a multiple page document that provides a thorough breakdown of all of the survey’s findings. The report will also include an appendix of photos to accompany and demonstrate our findings.
As part of the report, our surveyors provide budget costs for repairs, shown annually for the next five years, as well as priority ratings and timescales for repair works.
Importantly, any Condition Survey Report conducted on a school or academy describes the condition of the property at the time of inspection in accordance with the Department for Education and Employment (DFEE) Guidance as published in Asset Management Plan Section 3 Condition Assessment.
Although having a Condition Survey Report on a new academy may not ultimately affect the decision to admit it into the trust, it at least arms the MAT with the knowledge of the amount and urgency of building work to be completed over the coming months and years.
Following the completion of the Condition Survey Report (or set of reports where a number of academies are involved), the MAT may decide to appoint a School Building Consultant to assume the role of progressing and managing the required works. This is a role that Lea Hough has a specialism in and undertake for several schools, academies, and MAT’s throughout the region.
For more information on Condition Survey Reports for schools and academies, or to speak to us about our work more generally in the education sector, please contact us.