The importance of having a Strategic Asset Management Plan cannot be emphasised enough, it ensures a state of finances achieved to forward plan successfully across school buildings and ensures effective delivery of teaching and learning. Irrespective of the type of school; whether single stand-alone schools, multi-academy trusts (MATs), local authorities or schools with a religious character, they all have a premises that need managing effectively and safely.
In order to manage risks, premises needs must be effectively integrated into the individual school or MAT’s organisational strategy. Understanding the estates demands and needs directly impacts finance and having a well-developed estates strategy will put school leaders in an ideal position to maximise the various funding streams available to support the estate.
Whether dealing with the plethora of statutory requirements, unplanned events, delivering capital investment or adapting buildings to suit the curriculum requirements, forward planning and engagement across the whole school community must be achieved.
So what are the key considerations when developing a school or MAT estates strategy?
- the size, location, age and condition of buildings and land in the estate
- land ownership, tenure and constraints
- how effectively the current facilities meet the specific educational needs of the school
- the type, size and nature of the body responsible for the school
- available funding and future aspirations for the estate
- area based considerations of the need for places or spare capacity in the system
- the terms of your funding arrangements
(Good Estate Management for Schools, Gov.uk. 2021)
The assessment of school buildings must not be limited to simply considering condition, but a more in depth review to consider demands on reactive maintenance, technical compliance and the wider issues of space, capacity planning and anticipated demands on the estate in future years. Having a clear understanding of the key data of the estate is vital, including carbon management and the wider aspects of Trustee, Governor and wider stakeholder engagement to develop an assets strategy.
Given the size and complexity of managing even a small school to ensure it is well maintained in a compliant and safe manner, improvements are managed effectively and value for money is achieved, it is important to make sure the required professionals are engaged to support.
The primary areas of support schools should seek are from Building Surveying, through the Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors, Building Services Engineers through the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers or an Architect through the Royal Institute of British Architects.
The key message is that professional technical support is imperative to develop and implement a Schools Estate Strategy.
Further reading can be found at Good Estate Management for Schools: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/good-estate-management-for-schools/strategic-estate-management