The school summer holidays are fast approaching. Although for children (and lots of parents!) this means taking a break from the normal routine, at Lea Hough, we’ll be getting to work! Each year, Lea Hough work with academy schools throughout the North West to help them prepare bids for funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency’s Condition Improvement Fund (CIF). For those academy schools that gain CIF funding, the building works often take place over the summer holidays whilst the buildings and grounds are empty.
Where Lea Hough have helped an academy school to win CIF funding, we are retained as Buildings Consultant to project manage the programme of work. In the coming months, we will therefore be on site at several schools in Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Cumbria, Yorkshire and beyond overseeing projects ranging from safeguarding schemes, fire alarm replacements, boiler and heating upgrades, improvements to roofing, window and door replacement right through to whole block refurbishments. In total, Lea Hough will be involved with over £4 million of repair and improvement works to schools and academies this summer.
The CIF represents a significant opportunity for academies and schools to receive government funding for projects they may otherwise struggle to afford to undertake. This year, 1556 projects across 1299 academies and sixth-form colleges were approved, with a total of £514 million of funds allocated nationwide. The CIF has strict guidelines on what can and cannot fall within its funding remit and the application process is extremely competitive, with only limited funds available.
Our message to any academy schools that have areas of work required on their buildings or grounds is to start preparations as soon as possible. Lea Hough’s services in this area span the entire process, from undertaking condition surveys to identify suitable projects, preparing all necessary design drawings and proposals, through to submitting the CIF applications, obtaining Building Regulations and Planning approvals, obtaining tenders from contractors through to overseeing the building works from start to finish. We also act as Principal Designer and ensure compliance with CDM Regulations.
The first step in the process is for Lea Hough’s specialist team to visit the academy to provide an initial free-of-charge, no obligation, consultation. Thereafter, our Chartered Surveyors would inspect the school buildings, and provide advice regarding maintenance and development funding opportunities. Then, if a suitable funding bid is identified in line with CIF funding criteria, we would work with the Academy to prepare a tailored funding application to give the best chance of success. There is generally no up-front fee to academies for this service as these are obtained at a later date from bids that prove successful.
Lea Hough has been working with academy schools, multi-academy trusts (MAT’s) and sixth form colleges for several years and our approach to applying for CIF funding is tried and tested. In the most recent round of CIF funding, our success rate for applications exceeded twice the national average.
To find out more about our services for schools and academies or to arrange a free site visit to your academy or sixth form college, please contact us.