This month’s budget included news of a further £216 million in funding for improving existing schools, which Chancellor Philip Hammond said is “taking total investment in school condition to well over £10 billion in this Parliament”.
For over 1,000 academies and sixth form colleges each year, that investment comes in the form of the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).
Provided through the Education Funding Agency, CIF is designed to address health and safety issues in school buildings, as well as supporting expansion projects and efforts to improve energy efficiency.
Past successful projects include boiler replacements, roof repairs and the creation of new classroom blocks with efficient air conditioning systems and modern dance studios. Any money awarded is ring-fenced for improvement works, but for many schools, the subsequent energy savings allow for significant investment elsewhere.
As the below infographic from mechanical services provider 361 Degrees explains, three main criteria are used to determine whether an application receives funding:
• Project need – weighted as 70% of the assessment. Priority is given when there is a health concern, such as asbestos removal or heating problems.
• Project planning – worth 15%. Applicants need to demonstrate risks are understood and their solutions are feasible.
• Value for money – for the final 15%, assessors will consider a breakdown of costs and the degree of certainty.
Given the risk of closure in the event of heating failures or unsafe buildings, CIF is one of the most important sources of funding available to schools. However, with only around 1,200 projects funded each year, submitting the best possible application is vital.
A detailed understanding of current conditions is the best place to start, while working with an experienced mechanical services provider to create specifications and timelines helps an applicant make a strong case.
The latest successful projects are due to be announced later this month, before applications for the next round get underway later this year.
Source: 361 Degrees