Click here to find out what the report calls for
The long-awaited review by Sebastian James into the government’s school building programme contains sixteen key recommendations. The recommendations in full are:
- Capital investment and apportionment should be based on objective facts and use clear, consistently-applied criteria. Allocation should focus on the need for high-quality school places and the condition of facilities.
- Demand-led programmes, such as Free Schools, are most sensibly funded from the centre and a centrally retained budget should be set aside for them.
- The Department should avoid multiple funding streams for investment that can and should be planned locally, and instead apportion the available capital as a single, flexible budget for each local area, with a mandate to include ministerial priorities in determining allocations.
- Notional budgets should be apportioned to Local Authority areas, empowering them fully to decide how best to reconcile national and local policy priorities in their own local contexts. A specific local process, involving all Responsible Bodies, and hosted by the Local Authority, should then prioritise how this notional budget should be used.
- The local prioritisation decisions should be captured in a short local investment plan. There should be light-touch central appraisal of all local plans before an allocated plan of work is developed so that themes can be identified on a national level and scale-benefits achieved. This must also allow for representations where parties believe the process has not assigned priorities fairly.
- Individual institutions should be allocated an amount of capital to support delivery of small capital works and ICT provision. Wherever possible, this should be aggregated up to Responsible Bodies according to the number of individual institutions they represent, for the Responsible Body then to use for appropriate maintenance across its estate, working in partnership with the institutions.
- The Department ensures there is access to clear guidance on legal responsibilities in relation to maintenance of buildings, and on how revenue funding can be used for facility maintenance.
- That the Department: 1. gathers all local condition data that currently exists, and implements a central condition database to manage this information. 2. carries out independent building condition surveys on a rolling 20% sample of the estate each year to provide a credible picture of investment needs, repeating this to develop a full picture of the estate’s condition in five years and thereafter.
- That the Department revises its school premises regulations and guidance to remove unnecessary burdens and ensure that a single, clear set of regulations apply to all schools. The Department should also seek to further reduce the bureaucracy and prescription surrounding BREEAM assessments
- There should be a clear, consistent Departmental position on what fit-for-purpose facilities entail. A suite of drawings and specifications should be developed that can easily be applied across a wide range of educational facilities. These should be co-ordinated centrally to deliver best value.
- The standardised drawings and specifications must be continuously improved through learning from projects captured and co-ordinated centrally. Post occupancy evaluation will be a critical tool to capture this learning.
- As many projects as possible currently in the BSF and Academy pipeline should be able to benefit from the Review’s findings to ensure more efficient procurement of high quality buildings. This should be an early priority to identify where this could be done.
- That the Central Body should put in place a small number of new national procurement contracts that will drive quality and value from the programme of building projects ahead.
- That the Department uses the coming spending review period to establish a central delivery body and procurement model, whereby the pipeline of major projects – to a scale determined by the Department – is procured and managed centrally with funding retained centrally for that purpose.
- The Department quickly takes steps to maximise the value for money delivered though maintenance and small projects and puts in place a simple and clear national contract to make this happen.
- That the Department revisit its 2004 Cap Gemini report and implement proposals where they are appropriate.