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The Department for Education’s (DfE) Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is one of the key funding routes for eligible schools to obtain capital funding for building and maintenance projects. Successful bids can be the difference in allowing a school to further invest in the grounds, facilities and buildings that are key to the success of the school.
Having a good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS) strategy in place is essential in ensuring the best chance of success in CIF bids. GEMS is an integrated approach to managing educational estates that takes an overarching look at the school’s short and long-term estate and building needs. It enables a school to plan for the future, taking into account the school’s estate needs and ensuring that they are being met.
It is important that a school is able to demonstrate that it is taking a proactive approach to the management of its estate and that it is aware of the need to meet any legal requirements.
In fact, when schools apply for CIF, they need to be able to demonstrate that they have a GEMS Strategy in place for maintaining their estate, that they have had a Condition Survey recently undertaken and that they have other strategic approaches in place, such as an Environmental Sustainability Strategy.
Having a good GEMS strategy in place helps to ensure that the school is able to identify any areas that may require improvement or need funding in order to meet the school’s educational objectives. This can include repairs, refurbishments and other capital works.
GEMS can be used to provide evidence that the school has identified a need for capital works and can justify the need for funding. This can help to ensure that the school has a better chance of success in its CIF bids.
With the Department for Education putting a growing onus onto schools and Multi-Academy Trusts for effectively managing their estates, good record keeping is also a practice promoted by having a GEMS. As part of the process of compiling the GEMS policy, a school will get to understand the condition of their estate better – for example, knowing if they’ve got RAAC, knowing where their asbestos is, knowing what condition their roofs are in. The same applies to compliance checks for example, electric testing, gas testing, air conditioning testing, etc.
GEMS provides schools with a list of priorities to tackle, and also allows them to gain a full picture of where their shortfalls are in terms of space, or where their facilities are lacking.
GEMS provides an effective tool to ensure that schools are able to identify any areas which may require improvement or need funding. All of this can greatly assist a school to demonstrate its proactive approach to the management of its estate, therefore increasing the likelihood that funding will be granted for any projects applied for.
To discuss how Lea Hough’s School Building consultants can assist in the preparation of GEMS and CIF funding applications, please get in touch.
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