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How can academies benefit from Condition Improvement Fund?

Michael Farmer, Head of Technical at 361 Degrees, discusses how academies can use CIF to improve their premises

Posted by Lucinda Reid | May 12, 2017 | Facilities & buildings

The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is a government incentive that’s designed to help schools and academies improve the condition of their buildings and premises.

Applicants apply for financial resources through the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) via an online portal and the fund addresses:

·       Health and safety issues

·       Building compliance

·       Expansion projects

·       Improving energy efficiency

To be eligible for a grant, primary and special schools must have a project demand for at least £20,000.

For secondary schools and sixth-form colleges, this figure increases to £50,000, while the maximum threshold for any given project is £4 million.

At 361 Degrees, we work closely with applicants trying to secure funding and also on new school building projects, so we know how much this can help to improve premises.

How does the CIF benefit schools?

Over the years, we have seen a number of schools expand and improve their condition and the fund can assist them by helping to:

·       Provide safe and secure buildings and premises for pupils and teachers

·       Upgrade facilities to create a more positive learning experience

·       Offer bigger school premises to take in larger volumes of pupils from the area and allow them to learn in a modern environment

·       Create eco-friendly and energy-efficient premises, which can help to reduce financial costs and outgoings

Financial resources granted to successful applicants are ring-fenced for improvement works, which means the energy savings made allow for significant investment in other areas of the school.

Which types of school project does the CIF cover?

Provided the works meet the standards outlined in the EFSA CIF Information for Applicants Guide, funding can help with a range of school projects.

These include roof repairs and structural changes, boiler replacements, new classroom blocks and building modern school facilities with efficient air conditioning in place.

We would strongly advise that you develop an understanding of the improvement priorities of your school and plan well ahead, as applications need to be as detailed as possible.

How does the government allocate funds?

Three main criteria are used to decide whether a school should receive funding. These are:

Project need (70%) – assessed through a condition survey and evidence; the bulk of funding is determined and granted for instances where there is a health concern, for example heating issues and gas safety

Project planning (15%) – applicants need to demonstrate that the risks are understood and the solutions are actually feasible

Value for money (15%) – the breakdown of costs will be assessed to see if they meet the demands of the work required, to make sure funding offers value for money

Applying for the CIF

If schools need to shut due to heating failure or because building structures aren’t safe, this can have a significant impact on pupils’ progress. The CIF is, therefore, an important resource for schools as it provides funding for specific improvements.

We have established that only around 1,200 projects are funded each year, so therefore it’s vital to submit the best application possible.

This infographic that we created here at 361 Degrees, will help you to understand the application process and fund in greater detail.

Further details about the Condition Improvement Fund and how to apply can also be found on the government website.

In our experience, the best applications use supporting evidence and understand the full implications of how the developments will improve the school for the better.

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