A minute with Ian Harrington – Director at Eddisons
The Building & Projects Consultancy team from leading surveying firm Eddisons will be exhibiting at The Academies Show 2018. In advance of next week’s show, Ian Harrington (National Head – Building & Project Consultancy at Eddisons) caught up with MyAcademy’s James Grieves to discuss the work the team do with Academies to help secure funding for the development of school building projects.
What are some of the common property challenges and considerations faced by converter academies and established MATs?
I think that one of the most common challenges is understanding their portfolio and the issues they are facing with that portfolio and how they can be translated into funding streams to be delivered effectively.
What tips do you have to help them address/overcome these?
Firstly, i’d suggest getting a comprehensive assessment of their portfolio to fully understand the specific issues they face, so they can plan a strategic path forward. Given that many schools may not have that expertise in house, that’s where we will support them, for example by undertaking conditional surveys to assist in their understanding.
How can schools maximise the performance and effectiveness of their property assets?
There are many ways to improve a school’s performance and effectiveness, from installing more energy efficient lighting and heating systems, to improving their teaching, catering or sports facilities. Schools need to see their properties as an asset that enhances the learning environment and student take-up.
Furthermore, under the new Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) guidelines the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) are increasingly asking to see financial contribution/commitment from academies and academies need to embrace that.
What funding options are available and how can academies increase their chances of success when seeking funding applications?
The obvious source of funding for academies under the 3000-student threshold is CIF funding. For a school to maximise their chances of success quality bid documents need to be prepared supported by up to date condition surveys. Schools also must show financial commitment to the project either by means of either direct funding, Salix funding or CIF loans. The ESFA are increasingly looking for academies to show financial commitment and to share the financial burden.
How do you help schools create inspiring learning spaces? Do you have any examples you could share?
We listen to client’s and their ambitions for the school, and will then offer potential solutions based on our experience and wider knowledge. The primary focus under the CIF process is to ensure building fabric and form are in a good repaired condition and compliant status.
While this mainly relates to roofs, windows, boilers, safeguarding, Life and Fire safety, we will incorporate these into a more creative environment through effective design or the use of innovative materials. For one school we incorporated their school colours and branding into our designs, to make the space more attractive and inspiring for pupils and staff.
What help can Eddisons offer when it comes to the maintenance of school properties?
We help schools better manage their property maintenance by looking at it alongside the strategic business needs of the school and their long-term objectives. We then produce a planned maintenance programme for them which supports prudent maintenance, enhances bid applications and acts as their roadmap to success.
How does Eddisons differ from other firms offering CIF bids?
Our clients have told us that they appreciate how engaged we are from the outset, and that we maintain this communication throughout the whole process. It’s about partnership and working together. I think what sets us apart is that we take the time to fully understand what they want to achieve and then make sure we deliver that.
What are the ways you can help with the process of applying CIF Bids?
We can help with the process by applying our knowledge, surveying skills and professional abilities however not to forget that it is schools that know their environment and business and by integration of the two and forming a partnership is how we increase the workability and the chance of success.
Many school governors and boards do not have the expertise when it comes to property development and planning, what are the ways Eddisons can assist them with the long-term planning for the future?
We review their portfolio as a whole and again in a partnership with the school/ MAT develop a strategic plan for the future rather than just looking at individual projects we look at the whole picture.
Written by: Ian Harrington on Tuesday 13/11/2018