First published in April 2018, GEMS is a manual produced by the Department for Education (DfE) to help schools and responsible bodies manage their buildings and land.
GEMS provides schools with information on the policies, processes and documents they should aim to have in place. The idea behind the guidance is that by taking a strategic approach to estate management, schools should have a plan is in place for how to manage and make better use of their available resources and ultimately support the educational vision and strategy of the organisation.
Here we look at the various aspects of GEMS and the ways in which our School Building Consultants can help.
Understanding land and buildings
Although this isn’t always the entry point at which we first start working with a school, from a perspective of GEMS, this is a good place to consider how our School Building Consultants can help. Gaining an understanding of the condition of a school’s estate can inform the other areas of the strategic plan – including areas that require maintenance and potential budgets for carrying out such works. Our School Building Consultants can undertake a complete survey of the site, providing a detailed report on the condition of all buildings in the estate and the cost and priority of any works needed. This will help to inform and deliver on various other key aspects of GEMS – including developing a 3 to 5 year budget plan for the estate and looking for and obtaining funding.
Maintaining the estate
A proactive approach to managing a school’s estate can help to save money and also provide a safer learning environment. As indicated above, our School Building Consultants can help to identify and prioritise maintenance works. We can also plan the works, seek out suitable contractors and project manage larger-scale works.
Estate performance and sustainability
This is a key area that is growing in importance across all schools. Schools are being encouraged to reduce energy and water use, whilst also looking to maximise energy efficiency in buildings. In 2021, there were a number of funding schemes launched in respect of this under the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme (PSDS). Our School Building Consultants are increasingly being asked to look at projects with energy efficiency and sustainability in mind. We can help schools to plan projects or replacement schemes, seeking out and applying for funding on a school’s behalf where it is available.
According to the guidance on the government’s website, schools should: “have a strong approach to project delivery”. Our School Building Consultants have a strong track record of working with schools to plan and deliver building, maintenance and improvement projects. Our involvement helps to ensure minimal disruption during works and optimal results within timeframe and budget.
For more information on any of the service we offer schools, or to arrange a free of charge site visit to discuss your needs and estate vision, please get in touch. Our School Building Consultants work with schools across Lancashire, Greater Manchester and the wider North West.