School headteachers and governors are increasingly being expected to be able to manage every aspect of their budget effectively, including that for any repair, maintenance or expansion work required on their school buildings or estate. The input and professional advice of a School Building Consultant can prove extremely helpful.
Academy schools, small Multi-Academy Trusts, sixth form colleges and voluntary aided schools in particular can access the advice of a School Building Consultant in relation to funding applications from a number of sources, notably the annual CIF and SALIX/SEEF funding.
So when seeking to appoint a School Building Consultant, what should school Headteachers and Academy leaders be looking out for and what are the key questions to ask?
What is your experience in the education sector?
Working within the education sector can often have its hurdles to overcome for any supplier and it is important that anyone you appoint is aware of these and has the ability to navigate them successfully. Seeking a school building consultant with experience they can demonstrate, ideally across a variety of education settings and types of school, can go some way to providing reassurance that they know the unique challenges of dealing within education – such as working around school term dates. If you are specifically looking for a consultant who can help with funding applications, be sure to ask for evidence of this too.
What is your success rate for funding applications?
If you are in one of the eligible categories of school for funding from sources such as the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF), you may well be keen to find out more about the credentials of a school building consultant in relation to funding applications. Some consultants may try to inflate their success by quoting the amount of funding they have achieved by the million. Although this is one way to measure success, you may also wish to ask what rate of application was approved in the most recent year of funding and how well these projects were delivered / project-managed.
What are your notable recent projects?
Whilst many School Building Consultants will have one or two ‘showcase projects’ they are only too keen to talk about, the fact is that the majority of works that will required to be undertaken will not be glamorous! Therefore, you shouldn’t overlook projects such as boiler replacement schemes, asbestos removal, electrical safety improvements, electrical re-wiring and replacement of fire alarms/detection systems, which although less exciting, are more likely to be the type of project that you need to undertake and can obtain funding for, as such issues could result in school closure.
What services do you provide?
Not all school building consultants are able to offer an end to end solution, with some only being able to provide reports or advice. For some schools, having a team on hand that are able to see a project through from inception to final completion, is more favourable. Lea Hough’s School Building Consultants are not only able to provide advice on scoping a project, we are also able to provide evidence in the form of survey reports; advising on relevant funding applications, right through to the point of appointing contractors and overseeing the works. Our services to schools also not only relate to planning specific projects, we are also able to undertake full site surveys and complete ongoing maintenance reports and plans on behalf of a school, helping to lay out a plan for a longer period.
To speak to Lea Hough’s School Building Consultants with a view to arranging a free of charge site visit, please get in touch.