Watts Sector

Schools need ‘MOTs’ to apply for new funding

The demise of the Building Schools for the Future programme has left a number of schools around the country in desperate need of refurbishment, or even rebuilding.

Some schools, expecting funding through Labour’s school building programme, now find their buildings beyond economic repair. To tackle this problem, the Department for Education (DfE) has launched a privately financed programme to provide school facilities, designed to address the problems of schools in the worst condition.

Applications for this new strand of funding are made direct to central government rather than through local education authorities, with schools notified of the new programme prior to the summer holidays and the deadline for applications on 14 October. Provision of funding will be prioritised by determining the condition of school buildings and tackling the worst schools first. Therefore the application form calls for schools to provide evidence of need based on a building condition survey obtained or updated within the last two years. Schools that cannot provide a condition report will not be eligible.

This underlines the necessity of school authorities to ensure they have their buildings surveyed on a regular basis – not only for the current funding application but also to ensure that future maintenance can be planned and carried out in the most cost effective and efficient manner.

Some headteachers may be forgiven for thinking that making condition the criterion for selection is simply rewarding failure by giving new schools to local authorities/academies who haven’t managed their buildings properly. However the DfE is clear that schools in the worst condition are those that require investment.  The department has made assurances that new maintenance strategies will deal with the future upkeep of schools.

The outcome of the present round of applications for funding will be notified to schools in December.

For more information, contact Tom Kibblewhite, Associate at Watts Group, on 0161 831 6180.

Watts Pocket Handbook

The Watts Bulletin is the technical companion to the Watts Pocket Handbook, the essential guide to property and construction, as used by professionals since 1983.

Watts Bulletin editor: Trevor Rushton.

To subscribe to Watts Pocket Handbook Online, visit wattshandbook.co.uk.