Latest Articles

The Data-Centric Approach to Good Estate Management

Effective estate management is essential in providing students with quality learning environments. Strategically optimising educational facilities for performance requires data. Accurate, current data, that’s easy to understand. This is where resources like CAD and Building Information Modeling (BIM) become invaluable.  Data empowers estate managers to visualise, analyse, and enhance their estates so that they can be confident in their decis… read more

Guide to GEMS: Good Estate Management for Schools

This article covers what Good Estate Management for Schools means, its key objectives and benefits, and how you can implement it into your school estate management. What is GEMS: Good Estate Management for Schools? The UK Government produced a guide called ‘Good Estate Management for Schools’ (GEMS). It’s a manual, resource library and toolkit from the Department for Education to support schools with everything that comes under estate management…. read more

Population Decline Looks Here to Stay. How Will Our Schools Be Affected?

Globally, population trends are shifting, with almost all countries experiencing declining birth rates and ageing populations. In the UK, these trends are pronounced, with no signs of returning to previous levels. This raises questions about the future of education. Recent government reports indicate a significant decrease in pupil numbers, with predictions showing a 12% drop over the next decade. This signals a major demographic shift that will… read more

Net Capacity Assessment Programme: Pros, Cons and FAQs

During 2021 the DfE announced a new programme to assess the pupil capacity of secondary and special schools across the country. The plan involves sending Valuation Office Agency (VOA) surveyors to every school to measure available space and calculate pupil capacity. The programme has been running for a couple of months so it is too early to assess outcomes from the Net Capacity Assessment (NCA) programme as no completed assessments have been issu… read more

Beyond the Net Capacity Assessment Programme: The Importance of Independent Pupil Capacity Data for Schools 

In July 2023, the Department for Education (DfE) launched its long-awaited Net Capacity Assessment Programme for all state-funded secondary and special schools. The programme aims to improve the accuracy of pupil capacity data held about these schools and ensure it is up-to-date, allowing for informed decision-making by Local Authorities and the DfE.  While the programme is a hugely positive step in recognising the importance of having accur… read more

20 Years of SPM – Press Release

School Property Matters celebrates 20 years of supporting great estates! 2023 marks the 20th year of operation for School Property Matters (SPM), a Lancashire based business specialising in the collection and analysis of school estate data. Over it’s time in operation SPM has completed over 1060 projects in schools all over the country, including Local Authority clients, individual schools, Single Academy Trusts, special schools and some of… read more

Why do school estates need to take a whole life carbon approach to their sustainability strategy?

Following decades of rising concerns about carbon emissions, the solution now seems clear: ‘Net-Zero Whole Life Carbon Road Map’ by 2050 for the built environment. We are entering a pivotal moment in the fight against climate change. This is because it is now undeniable that we are living through the results of the climate crisis and that without changing our way of life, it would be impossible to achieve the 2050 target set by the UK government…. read more


In April 2021 the Education Secretary reasserted the Government’s vision that every UK school ought to be part of a multi-academy trust ‘family’. The DfE followed up this sentiment in its non-statutory guidance paper ‘Building Strong Academy Trusts’ published in May 2021, stating: “academy trusts can make the most effective use of centralised processes…to empower schools to focus on teaching and knowledge building.” The trend towards convergenc… read more

Are Schools Becoming ‘True Net Zero’?

Back in the late sixties the availability of energy was something we all took for granted, we had an abundance of coal to keep the lights on and our toes warm and enough oil in the ground to keep our cars running for our lifetimes. Issues around energy consumption were not something the average person concerned themselves with, it was for another generation to worry about and the promising nuclear energy developments seemed to be the answer to al… read more

Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF)

The Trust Capacity Fund (TCaF) is a competitive grant fund that will award up to £24 million over the 2021-22 financial year to help trusts develop their capacity to grow. The fund is organised into 2 strands: Projects in which your trust will take on at least one additional inadequate or requires improvement school from one of the listed areas All other trust capacity building projects TCaF has a particular focus on supporting strong trusts, and… read more

Condition Improvement Fund (CIF)

The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) is an annual bidding round for eligible academies, sixth-form colleges and VA schools to apply for capital funding. The priority of the fund is to support condition projects, especially those that relate to compliance and health and safety issues. A small proportion of expansion projects are also supported in cases where the eligible body is rated good or outstanding by Ofsted and can demonstrate a need to exp… read more


SPM can provide the data you need to support the Project Need section of your application. Evidence of pupil capacity from an independent source Scenario modelling for increasing capacity of the exiting site versus expansion Up to date Net Capacity Assessment for the whole institution Get the data you need with School Property Matters Email Us Today or call 01253 376376 WHAT IS IT? The Post-16 Capacity Fund has been introduced as part of capital… read more

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

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 o… read more

The Fundamentals of Good Estate Management

Establishing a secure foundation for your estate management plan is paramount. The first step to the strategic management of your school estate is ensuring the 7 fundamentals outlined in the Good Estate Management Guide for Schools are in place. Get the data you need to take your estate strategy to the next level. read more

Pupil Capacity – The Forgotten Fundamental of Estate Management?

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Who looks after capacity planning in your School or Trust?

With billions invested in providing extra pupil places over the past ten years, pupil capacity planning has very much been in focus nationally.  However, at an individual school level the science of pupil capacity planning is poorly applied, resulting in a wide range of problems from over-crowding, poor space utilisation, escalating maintenance costs and unnecessary capital expenditure. Speaking at Managing the School Estate Summit 2021 Jere… read more


SPM can provide the data you need to support your bid for funding. Evidence of condition from an independent source Space Needs Assessment as justification for expansion projects Up to date Net Capacity Assessment for the whole institution Be confident in your bid with School Property Matters Email Us Today or call 01253 376376   WHAT IS IT? T Levels are new technical study programmes that will sit alongside apprenticeships. The DfE hav… read more

Why 15 is NOT The Magic Number

Social Distancing in Schools – Calculating Pupil Numbers by Room Type If schools are to maintain social distancing, they cannot run at full capacity, meaning they will have to find a way to adapt to this ‘new normal’. School Property Matters is the country’s foremost specialist in calculating school pupil capacities; therefore, the best way in which we can support the sector at this time is to advise on the pupil capacity of a school when accommo… read more

Covid-19 Statement

Last Updated: July 2021 School Property Matters is the country’s foremost specialist in calculating school pupil capacities and works with local authorities, academy trusts, and individual schools across the country. The company works within schools to measure and assess the sites and buildings and then completes detailed analysis as a desk based exercise. As a result of the changes to restrictions put in place in England from the 19th July, we a… read more

Schools Need Volvo City Safety

Volvo came up with an amazing system to constantly monitor the road and detect when you were about to hit something in front of you. The car applies the brakes and stops you before the accident happens. The system was not an optional extra, Volvo fitted it to all their cars as standard some years ago. Like most men, I consider myself to be a good driver and thought that whilst a good innovation, the system wouldn’t make much difference to me. How… read more

Procurement Rules Crippled Councils and Now They’re Starting on Academies

Back through the mists of time when flares were fashionable and Margaret Thatcher was busy stealing milk from small children, procurement departments didn’t exist. Most purchases for schools were handled by the local authority and the man responsible for the area that needed to buy something would talk to sales people, peruse catalogues, decide on the best value and buy what was needed. The legal department would ensure contracts for bigger stuff… read more

Measuring the Pupil Capacity of a School

More pupils, less pupils, justifying the pupils already in a school, defending against more pupils, how do you work out the physical pupil capacity of school buildings? Who you are will probably dictate how you measure. Local Authority The Local Authority (LA) is the commissioner of school places and ultimately responsible for knowing how many school places are within their area. Their starting place for school capacity is typically a Net Capacit… read more

Are We Short of School Places, or Just Counting Them Badly?

The country is facing a massive shortage of school places, for years we have been building on to the side of our primary schools to add more places. The bulge in pupils is now approaching the secondary school sector with many already expanding, the real stress point in secondary schools will be reached within three years. The government has spent many billions addressing this problem and will continue to spend billions for some time. Figuring out… read more



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