How do I ensure strategic estate management within my school or trust? The crucial step you may be missing!

Posted: April 19, 2021

With the conversation around strategic estate management being so prominent in the education sector over recent years, little is being discussed about how to truly secure a strategically managed school estate. Establishing a ‘data driven’ estate function within your school or trust is the only way to ensure an estate that is strategically and effectively managed.

The perceived priorities of works to be done within the estate will vary depending on the position each stakeholder looks at the estate from. Teachers may only be concerned with the issues in their classrooms, therefore believing they should be top of the list. Alternatively, Headteachers may believe the need for new or improved teaching facilities is paramount. As an estate manager, you need the ability to remain objective when confronted with these differing viewpoints and demands, to truly set the priority list for capital expenditure from an unbiased perspective. Having a complete set of data, including floor plans, capacity data and condition reports for your site will enable you to make these decisions with confidence, demonstrating to each stakeholder where their priorities lie in the bigger strategic picture. 

The need for data only increases with the number of schools within your trust. Each school will ask and fight for their site to be the focus of your capital funding allocation. Arming your estate function with data will enable them to disarm lower priority demand, decisions made will be objective and allow for greater transparency of the decision-making process. For example, if you were to have 5 schools within your trust the only way to ensure fair and equitable allocation of funds such as School Condition Allocations is to have an informed capital programme detailing how the capital works fit in with the ongoing building maintenance. 

If your trust is taking on new schools, doing the necessary technical due diligence by sourcing preliminary data for the new sites prior to the schools joining your trust is essential. The maintenance, capital programme and pupil capacity of the sites will become your responsibility, so any residual estate issues need to be highlighted and a dowry negotiated for taking on the responsibility of the buildings. This will enable you to plan for any significant expenditure that your new sites may require.   

When speaking about this topic, School Property Matters Managing Director Jeremy Pilgrim summarised the importance of having a data driven estate function by posing the question ‘How can you manage it if you don’t measure it?’. Establishing clear, independent base data as the basis for your estate strategy is critical to the smooth running of your estate function, a data driven estate function is in complete control of the facts surrounding the estate and as a result, is able to make fully informed, equitable decisions in all areas. 



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