Did you know that only around a third of CIF applications are accepted each year?
Here we provide a checklist for Academy Schools and other eligible education providers to work through when making CIF applications.
Stay focused and specific
CIF applications are not an opportunity for schools to wax lyrical on their needs, or indeed discuss areas beyond the scope of the project at hand. The DfE receive thousands of applications each year and specify in their guidance that applications should be clear and specific.
Check the criteria to ensure the project is within scope
The CIF is designed to provide schools with vital funds to improve, repair or replace elements that are having a negative impact on teaching and learning. Not all projects that a school might like to undertake fall within the scope of CIF funding. The general types of project that the fund allows for are those that relate to health and safety, weathertightness, safeguarding and improving condition.
The criteria can vary each year, so it is worth reviewing this before making an application.
The inclusion of expert technical advice that supports the proposal being made is key to the potential success of a CIF application. Evidence should show why the project is a priority for funding and cannot wait for future rounds of CIF.
Photographic evidence is also a useful way to support applications. Photographs should show the full extent of the condition need.
Ensure evidence is up to date
All surveys must have been undertaken within the last three years.
Ensure evidence is from an independent source
Evidence on the condition of the existing systems/structures should only come from an independent source, such as a Chartered Surveyor’s report. A report from a potential contractor is not considered to be independent as they are hoping to win the work, so could be considered a biased source.
Provide clear information on costings
The costs for the project should be outlined in as much detail as possible. Quotes will not only need to be keenly priced, but should also demonstrate value for money and the potential for longevity.
Where a financial contribution is being made by the school, this should be affordable and within the scope of the school’s budgets.
Ensure quotes are comparable
It is important that any quotes put forward cover the same scope of works. In order to achieve this, it will be necessary to give a detailed brief to any contractors that are asked to quote.
Include a detailed delivery plan
The DfE will want to be confident that any project they fund is to be executed effectively. They will therefore want to see how the project is to be achieved in the form of a detailed delivery plan, showing how, when and by whom the project will be carried out. Again, this should be as detailed and specific as possible.
It may also be sensible to provide a risk assessment of the building works and contingency plans for if the project overruns.
Ensuring that you have every base covered when making CIF project applications is a time-consuming process. As such, many schools choose to outsource the task of preparing and submitting CIF bids to a School Building Consultant.
As School Building Consultants, Lea Hough has a strong track record of helping schools to win CIF funding, with our success rate being well above the national average. Having worked on CIF applications over the years, we are very well-placed to advise on all of the nuances within the application process.
Please contact our team, which is headed by Michael Harrison, here.