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News - 26/02/2019

Do your homework for funding bids, academies urged

Academies and sixth forms are being urged to develop an estate strategy in order to win a share of a multi-million-pound Government fund.

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Lambert Smith Hampton (LSH) is talking to education leaders across the country in the wake of the autumn 2018 submissions to the £514 million Condition Improvement Fund (CIF), and is urging them to do their homework and develop an estate strategy if they want to win a share of a multi-million-pound Government fund aimed at helping to improve and expand facilities at more than 1,300 schools.

A team of experts from LSH, with a wealth of experience in preparing and submitting successful bids on behalf of academy clients, will also be offering advice at the Schools and Academies Show on April 3 and 4 at ExCel in London, exhibiting at stand 1110 in the Building, Estates and Energy Zone.

Alex Manuel, Associate Building Surveyor for LSH in Northampton, said: “Bids have been submitted for the latest round of funding and hundreds of academy schools are waiting to see what news Easter brings with the outcome of their applications.
 
“However, the changes made to the process this time round, and the guidance provided by the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) means there is much to do for many academies looking to submit bids this coming autumn.
 
“The two new features in this bidding round were: the cost criterion had its weighting increased by 10% to give additional focus to value for money; and projects were asked to demonstrate that they were designed to satisfy the performance requirements of the Output Specification 2017 (OS).
 
“The former change has a potentially huge impact for schools – not only does it impact on how bids need to be written and the information that has to be gathered as part of this process, but it also raises issues relating to financial contributions that an academy may choose to make as part of its bid.”
 
The latter addition is a first step towards having some control over project quality. It is possible that this will develop and there are certainly some ‘holes’ in this, both in the document itself but also in how the ESFA is able to monitor this aspect.
 
He added: “The ESFA guidance also stressed the importance of academies having their own condition surveys and developing a strategy for managing their estate. This needs to be documented and should be part of a ‘live’ process to be fully effective, with this being regularly reviewed and adapted to ensure the buildings and facilities forming the site/s are able to deliver what is required for the teaching needs as these are liable to change over time.
 
“So it is imperative this estate strategy is developed hand-in-hand with the curriculum plan. Demonstrating how the work for which funding is sought fits into this strategy will be necessary on future bids.
 
“Setting up such a strategy is not a quick and easy task; it requires a commitment from members of the academy team to fulfil roles and responsibilities, and it will also require input from external consultants with the knowledge and ability to review and report to the trust on the condition of their estate, make prioritised recommendations as to the works needed with budget cost information, and help guide the trust in developing a plan that will enable the estate to meet the needs of its academies.” added Alex.
 
For more information, please contact Alex Manuel.

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