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School Property Handbook

Page last updated: 22/08/2018

The School Property Handbook is intended to provide useful information and guidance that will support ECC maintained schools, as well as other schools, in managing school property.


School Managed Projects - Avoiding Pitfalls!

School Managed Construction Projects – Avoiding Pitfalls
When schools manage their own construction projects, risks should be managed by using appropriate professional help to design, tender and construct projects.
In general, you will only get out of a project what you put in, that is to say that if cheap, unprofessional people are employed (or worse still, no consultant is employed at all) to manage the tendering and building phases of a project, then there is a far greater risk that costly problems could ensue at a later date.
The following are recent examples of work carried out in schools where problems have occurred because of a failure to have the project professionally managed:
1)   In a recent court case, an Academy Trust was fined £26,000 and ordered to pay costs of £20,000, for failure to control the potentially lethal risk of asbestos exposure by not identifying the type, location and condition of any asbestos containing materials within the fabric of the school, and in failing to implement suitable precautions to prevent its disturbance.
2)   An independent Essex school were recently fined £40,000 after they pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety regulations.  A worker fell from a roof and it was concluded that there were no supervisory arrangements, and that the work was not carried out in a safe manner, in accordance with Construction Design and Management (CDM) legislation.
3)   A school installed an all-weather sports area believing it was suitable for playing games. It transpired after installation that it was unsuitable (incorrect specification supplied by the installing company, who then claimed not to have been properly informed of the intended use for the play area). To correct the problem, the existing surface will now need to be pulled up, removed and replaced with more expensive product, at the cost of the school.
4)   A school used a contractor to fill in a disused outdoor swimming pool, and although the job was completed cheaply, it has now been discovered that the material used was hard-core contaminated with asbestos. To correct the position by safely removing the material and using appropriate material to fill the pool in will cost in excess of £30,000.
5)   ECC has recently become aware of a project, which is apparently in construction, without landlord’s consent having been obtained from ECC, and where the school has proceeded without using property consultants or having a proper project specification drawn up or following a proper tendering process
6)   A £40,000 self-managed school project to convert open-plan class areas to separate classrooms was not managed by a property consultant. It has transpired the project has left areas of the school unheated which will now require correction at the school’s additional expense.
These examples demonstrate that when corners and costs are cut, risks increase. To minimise risk of costly and potentially disruptive issues arising during, or after, construction projects, help should be sought from appropriately qualified professionals.
It is also important to seek landlord consent from ECC if the school is community or voluntary controlled. See this webpage for more information: Landlord Consent.
Please also refer to the School Property Handbook webpage for more information about school managed construction projects.
For clarification or further advice, please email

School Building Records and Manuals

School Building Records and Manuals
School building manuals and records are important documents that should be kept on the premises at all times so that they can be referred to whenever needed. The user manuals should contain all the details relating to the current materials and equipment in the school and how to use and maintain them safely.
Building information should include:
1.   Up to date drawings showing positions of equipment and materials.
2.   Plans of electrical circuits, water supply, heating and gas pipework, etc.
3.   Plans of fire equipment and escape routes, etc.
4.   Up to date test certificates, maintenance records.
5.   Asbestos register
6.   Health and safety manual and records
7.   Any other pertinent information including photos.
Any work completed at a school, which in any way affects the building, must be reflected by revising and updating manuals and records. Failure to do this could cause serious risk if contractors are given out of date information, and could result in legal action being taken against a school
Up-to-date records can save time and money when preparing to have further work completed. Instead of having to pay to have surveys completed to determine e.g. potential foundation depths, pipework runs or asbestos risk, previous record drawings may show all the information required. The project manager should ensure that documentation is completed by the property consultant working with the contractors, to enable records to be updated.
When Essex County Council funds capital maintenance or an expansion project at a school, the project manager should work with the school to update the school’s building information and provide Operation and Maintenance (O&M) Manuals.  Please contact if this information is not provided to the school within 2 months the practical completion of a project.
If obtaining, maintaining and updating building information is difficult for a school to manage, then it is recommended that the school employ a specialist company to do this for them (it might be more financially beneficial  for several schools to agree to jointly employ a specialist to deal with all of their schools’  construction records and manuals).
Some property records are available from ECC’s partner Lambert Smith Hampton and these can be requested by a school by emailing and requesting all school property drawings to be sent to the school.

Lath and Plaster Ceilings

Lath and Plaster Ceilings
Before the 1950s, lath and plaster was the typical way to create walls and ceilings. A more modern, faster and cheaper way to create smooth walls and ceilings is drywall (also known as plaster board), which is cheaper and easier to install. Some lath and plaster walls are durable and fully usable after decades. But the condition may become worn down or damaged.
What is lath and plaster?
Lath and plaster interior walls and ceilings were constructed using narrow strips of wood, called lath, nailed horizontally across the vertical studs. Lath is thin, flat pieces of wood that form a foundation for supporting plaster. These laths were placed close together and once complete, several coats of plaster were layered on top to solidify the framework. The plaster that oozed between the laths is called “keys” and actually plays an important role in the lath and plaster’s ability to absorb sound.
Plaster is a mixture of lime and sand or cement and water that is applied over walls and ceilings on top of lath, to form a smooth hard surface that can be painted over once dry. Lath and plaster surfaces can be identified by looking along the surface in a good light – lath and plaster surfaces are more undulating and ‘lumpy’ than plasterboard or ‘Essex board’.
There are advantages to a lath and plaster construction. It has the ability to absorb noise and deter the spread of fire. The keys, with their irregular shapes between the walls, act as sound absorbing elements and lime plaster is denser than plasterboard. Traditional lime plaster is fire resistant and there is less space or air between the wall or ceiling layers, potentially giving fire less oxygen. Lath and plaster construction also allows for a greater curvature of a wall or ceiling.
Although lath and plaster were used as a reliable form of wall finishing, there are some issues that have presented themselves over time. The problem with plaster is that unlike drywall that attaches directly to studs inside walls, plaster is coated over the top of lath and the wood lath is attached to the wood studs. The plaster can become loose and crack along the walls. When plaster is applied to a wall, the mixture of plaster is hand-pushed through the spaces inside the wall to form the keys, which holds the plaster in place. In the result of poor workmanship, improper application, or excess moisture entering the lath and plaster, the material is more likely to crack or separate from the framework.
If you find that your lath and plaster ceiling is beginning to sag in distinct areas, this may be a sign that your plaster is detaching from the lath. In some cases your ceiling may naturally slope with age as ceilings tend to settle and recess over time but if you believe that your plaster may be detached from the lath, please call the Mitie Helpdesk  (0333 013 2288) who will ask for photos and may arrange for a contractor to attend.
Unsupported plaster, once it becomes separated from lath, can result in cracking along walls or ceilings. There is also the chance that water ingress or structural movement may damage the plaster and also lead to cracks. If you see significant cracks in a lath and plaster wall or ceiling, please do contact the Mitie Helpdesk (0333 013 2288) for advice.
If you believe your school has lath and plaster ceilings, do make sure roof maintenance is undertaken diligently to minimise risk of water ingress that might affect the ceiling’s integrity.

Roles and Responsibilities

Roles and Responsibilities
This section sets out the roles and responsibilities of the key partners in managing school property.
Role of the Local Authority (LA)
·         Strategically plan the supply of sufficient school places in Essex
·         Commission and deliver new build projects to provide the requisite number of school places
·         Commission and deliver school capital building maintenance programmes
·         Rapidly coordinate emergency maintenance work to minimize periods of school closure
·         Advise schools on maintenance, health & safety and other property-related matters
·         Advise schools on the management of building projects
·         Manage the Landlord Consent process for school managed building projects
·         Ensure schools understand these roles and responsibilities
Role of Headteachers and Governors
Headteachers have responsibility for premises management. Other staff will contribute, either by their defined duties or through personal responsibility for health and safety awareness in specific areas.
Headteachers are ‘the responsible person’ for the school premises. Together with the governing body, Headteachers need to:
·         Ensure that the site(s) and building(s) are managed in an appropriate manner
·         Ensure that staff/users operate buildings and facilities in a healthy and safe environment
·         Identify, monitor and manage required maintenance, planned preventative maintenance and potential improvement projects in the school development plan
·         Ensure identified projects are prioritized, cost-estimated and set against a realistic time-line
·         Plan, budget for and manage those works and projects for which they have responsibility
·         Manage property budgets for which they are responsible such as devolved formula capital
·         Prepare and regularly review policies for security, fire safety and health and safety
·         Ensure risk assessments are prepared and that action is taken to minimize risk
·         Produce a School Accessibility Plan and Disability Equality Scheme
·         Where appropriate, make the building and facilities available for community use

Regulations and Standards

There are regulations that apply to building work to extend, remodel and maintain property. To ensure that these regulations are complied with, schools should employ a property consultant. This will protect the school and the Authority from the consequences of noncompliance.
Building regulations
Since 2001, schools have been required to comply with Building Regulations when extending or remodelling their buildings. The Building Regulations apply to the construction, extension and alteration of premises. There are specific requirements in the Regulations concerning the conservation of fuel and power that must be met before replacing boilers or lighting.
Building Regulations comprise the following ‘Approved Documents’ which are available for download from the Planning Portal
School premises regulations
All educational buildings are subject to School Premises Regulations 2012, which came into force on 31 October 2012.  These set out the standards for all new or existing schools.
The Education (School Premises) Regulations set out standards for school facilities:
·         Toilets and washing facilities
·         Medical accommodation
·         Health, safety and welfare
·         Acoustics
·         Lighting
·         Water supplies
·         Outdoor space
·         Other legislation on school premises 
Constructional standards for school buildings
Most of the particular requirements for school buildings have been embodied in the Building Regulations Approved Documents (see above). However, certain school specific standards contained in the DFE Constructional Standards continue to be applied to building works at schools until such time as they are absorbed into the Approved Documents.
Examples are Access and Facilities for Disabled People (Approved Document M) which is supplemented by separate DCSF guidance and Fire Safety (Approved Document B) which will be supplemented by DCSF Building Bulletin 100 (currently in draft form).
The Constructional Standards can be downloaded from:
The Construction (Design and Management) regulations
The Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (known as the CDM Regulations) apply to most construction and maintenance projects and aim to improve health and safety standards during construction work.  CDM Regulations were revised in April 2015 so it is important that schools ensure that they and their consultants/contractors comply with the latest version of the regulations. For more information see the chapter on ‘Managing a Project’ in this handbook.
Water supply regulations
If you are making any changes to water services the local water company must be notified under the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations. The water company has the authority to inspect existing services and if defects are found that result in contamination or waste of water they will insist that repairs are carried out.
Public entertainment licensing
If any part of the building is licensed for public entertainment, approval from the District Council’s Licensing Officer may be required even for minor alteration work.
Other building and engineering standards
Depending on the particular project being delivered, additional, specific requirements and standards may apply. It is not practical to list all standards and guidance that apply to schools but property consultants and design engineers specialising in school buildings have full knowledge of these. They would typically include:
·         HSE Legal Reference
·         Environment Agency Guidance
·         Requirements of Gas, Electricity, Water, Waste and Communication providers
The following are some specific standards that may only apply to particular schemes or are a requirement of Essex County Council. Most documents give references to further guidance that will equally apply.
Essex County Council policies and standards
Policies and standards on building issues can be found on the secure area of the Essex Schools Infolink, under the Health and Safety pages within the secure area of Infolink.  This will include guidance on such issues as the updated CDM Regulations, management of contractors on site and management of asbestos/COSHH etc.
Publications by the EFA
Listed below are some of the key ‘Building Bulletins’, current publications produced by the DfE. These and other publications can be obtained from
Building Bulletins
Landscape issues
Schools should check whether any proposed building work will affect trees or hedges in any way.  If the trees are covered by a Tree Preservation Order or are in a conservation area, consent for the work will be required from the planning authority.  Some hedges are covered by the Hedgerow Regulations 1997. 
For more details please contact the Council’s Ecology Team at Place Services (email who can provide further guidance and, where appropriate, arrange surveys and any necessary mitigation measures.
Planning requirements
Schools must consider the need to make a planning application in respect of the work.  Some minor development could be ‘permitted development’ which would not require an application for planning permission. Your property consultant will advise on whether planning permission is required.  Planning requirements can be complicated by a number of issues such as whether the building is ‘listed’ or if the building is in a conservation area.  Pre-application discussions with the Planning Authority are encouraged to discuss the particular planning considerations and requirements specific to your school.
If you have any questions relating to the creation and submission of a planning application, or the application process in general, refer to your local district or borough council’s planning website: Basildon, Braintree,  Brentwood, Castle Point, Chelmsford, Colchester, Epping Forest, Harlow,  Maldon, Rochford, Tendring, Uttlesford.

School Building Condition Reports

Direct Audits is the name of the website used to store the Essex school building condition data collected during their surveys between November 2013 and March 2014. The data will be available through this website for at least five years when the next survey is due. School staff members are able to view the data for their school via this website.
It is intended that schools use this website to help them identify and prioritise maintenance work that has been assigned as a school responsibility. It is also useful for school staff to be aware of work that ECC has identified as a Local Authority responsibility.
Each school has been given a single set of login details. Ideally knowledge of these login details will be constrained to the Head, the Bursar, the Site Manager and maybe some key office staff. Other people connected to the school such as governors will be keen to see the data but the website has a function to create PDF reports of the data which we recommend are emailed to interested parties.
So, how do you log into and use the website? 
The website address is: so click on the link to the left or copy and paste it into a web browser such as internet explorer. You will see the login screen shown below.

Each school has its own Username and Password. If you have forgotten yours, the MITIE helpdesk can remind you. Both Username and Password are case sensitive. Then press the blue LOG IN button.  Once you have logged in you will see the screen below.

Feel free to look around this webpage and see what all the different buttons do. Perhaps the most useful button on this webpage is the Query Reports button / Reports button (they do the same thing).
They both take you to the same useful area of the website:

If you want a PDF report of your school, type the school name into the Location Name/Property Code textbox then press Search and then press Component Condition and then press View.
The Report page also allows you to use a series of drop down menus to ask questions of the school condition database . Schools can only be able to query their own data. For example, you could ask the question: Show me all the highest priority (priority 1) mechanical engineering issues that are the responsibility of the LA :
The way you do this is to:
1.       Click on Element to display the options for building elements and select "Mechanical Engineering"
2.       Click on[Effect on User] and select "1" (effect on user drives the priority band)
3.       Click on [Responsibility] and Select "LA"
4.       Press the [Run Report] button
All of the priority 1 mechanical engineering items at your school for which LA has maintenance responsibility will be listed. Scroll down to look at them and click on the photos to view them more clearly.
An example of one of the list items is shown below:

The blue MANAGE button on the right allows you to inspect each item more closely and, if the item is assigned to the school, even update it.
If you press on the Options Show/Hide bar:

You will be given the option to export your query results into Excel where you can play about with the data more easily.

A particularly useful criterion is [Excl Zero Cost] which has the effect of only showing you the maintenance items that have a monetary cost assigned to them. This lets you immediately identify the most important maintenance issues.
If you want to return to the front page of the website from any area of the website, just press the Site button:

From the front page you can also watch some instructional videos about the website by pressing the help button:

If you want some advice, email who will be glad to help.
ECC Infrastructure Delivery
0333 013 1869

Planned Preventative Maintenance Undertaken by Schools

What is Planned Preventative Maintenance?
Planned Preventative Maintenance is maintenance carried out to a programme and in such a way as to postpone the need for more expensive major maintenance or replacement at a future date. Maintenance of some equipment can be a statutory requirement under Health and Safety Legislation.
Since the establishment of Fair Funding in the late 1990s schools have responsibility for arranging such programmes of work. Failure to undertake works that increase health and safety risk may lead to prosecution by the Health & Safety Executive. Schools are strongly advised to employ a property consultant and contractor to advise and carry out planned preventative maintenance.
Parts of the school that need to be considered for servicing and ongoing maintenance are given below. These lists are not exhaustive.
Engineering Installations
Water supply systems, heating installations, air conditioning and ventilation systems, oil and gas fired boilers, sewage pumps and chambers, oil supply pipes and tanks, kitchen equipment, swimming pools, fire-fighting equipment, fume cupboards, lift installations (including powered chair lifts), pressure systems, electrical systems, fire alarms and security systems, emergency lighting, lightning protection and portable appliances.
Buildings and structure
Roof finishes, rain water goods, fenestration, doors and external walls, drainage systems, relocatable buildings, pest control, paving, road surfaces, playground surfaces, car park surfaces, kerbing and grounds should be inspected every six months and minor repairs made as required.
Redecoration is always the responsibility of the school both internally and externally. This should be undertaken in cyclical periods determined by local conditions. Typical cycles of redecoration would be every 3,4,5 or 6 years.
Servicing, testing and inspection
In order to ensure that equipment and services remain safe, comply with statutory obligations and continue working satisfactorily, regular servicing and maintenance must be carried out and records kept. Such work would normally be arranged, with advice from the school’s property consultant, by setting up suitable service contracts with appropriate contractors.
In addition to the testing and servicing carried out by contractors, there are obligations on school staff to undertake inspections and testing; for example testing the fire alarm and emergency lighting, visually inspecting the boiler plant, checking water temperatures, and flushing little-used water outlets etc. These checks need to be regularly undertaken and logged. Your property consultant should work with you to agree the actions that must be taken.
Plant / Equipment
Service Interval
Fire alarm systems
See ECC fire risk assessment checklist and fire register for advice on these service intervals
Emergency lighting
Emergency gas or oil cut-off valves
Sprinkler systems
Kitchen extract ductwork
Fire extinguishers
Boilers – Gas
Every 12 months
Boilers – Oil
Every 6 months
Oil line pipework (above/below ground)
5 yearly pressure test
Oil tanks and associated pipework
Weekly visual inspection
Gas appliances safety check and gas soundness testing
Every 12 months (for production of the landlord’s gas safety certificate)
Catering equipment
Every 12 months
Hot water blending valves Safety check
every 6 months and service every 12 months
Pressure vessels
Annual insurance inspection (depending on equipment and results of assessment)
Swimming pools (microbiological water testing)
Subject to assessment (monthly testing for hydrotherapy and special school pools)
Fixed electrical installations
Every 5 years (swimming pools annually)
Portable electrical appliance testing (PAT testing)
By risk assessment
Passenger lifts and stair lifts
Every 6 months (plus monthly check)
Goods lifts and hoists
Every 12 months
Lightning conductors
Every 12 months
Local exhaust ventilation (e.g. fume cupboards and wood dust extraction)
Every 12 months
Powered pedestrian doors
Every 12 months plus safety checks by school at intervals depending on frequency of use.
Statutory Inspections by the ECC appointed insurance company
The Council’s insurance section has a policy agreement with Allianz Insurance to undertake both statutory and duty of care inspections on certain items of plant and equipment. Allianz Insurance will send their report direct to the school for the attention of the headteacher. The headteacher must ensure that items reported as needing repair or attention are followed up. Equipment inspections are undertaken at no cost to the schools.
Water Hygiene The measures that must be undertaken to control Legionella bacteria in water systems can be found in the ECC document ‘The Control of Legionella: Guide to Monitoring and Temperature Checks’ which is available on the Essex Schools InfoLink. Service intervals for some schools’ plant and equipment Please note that this is not a comprehensive list.

Property Consultancy

When schools should consider using a property consultant
Schools are strongly advised to employ the services of a professional property consultant for all building or maintenance projects other than minor works. A property consultant is a professionally qualified surveyor, architect or engineer, depending on the nature of the project.
Not using a property consultant might appear to save money but it is a false economy. Construction projects can easily result in breaches of health and safety or other legislation, or there might be problems with the contractor. Any of these can involve the school in expensive litigation. At the very least, a property consultant will provide the school with the peace of mind that the contractor is competent and all statutory approvals have been obtained.
Employment of a consultant will also relieve school staff of the time-consuming responsibility for day to day management of the project and, furthermore, any risks of error, commission or omission lie with the consultant and not with the school.
It is not necessary to employ a consultant for minor work such as the day to day repair jobs carried out by a caretaker as part of his or her normal duties. It is also not usually necessary to employ a consultant for minor maintenance work carried out by a contractor. However, minor work does need the advice of a consultant if there are health and safety implications (e.g. working at height, work affecting the means of escape, or work that disturbs the existing structure such as drilling holes in walls which could disturb asbestos). Some minor work may even require statutory approval or notification, such as Building Regulations or the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations.
Also, when commissioning any building work, a school has specific legal duties as a ‘client’ under the Construction (Design and Management)
Regulations 2015 (CDM2015) (see the chapter on ‘Managing a Project’ in this handbook). For example a client must ensure that contractors are competent (i.e. they have sufficient skills and knowledge) to do the job safely. The degree of competence required will depend on the complexity of the work to be done. There is also a legal requirement to provide pre-construction information as soon as is practical to every designer and contractor appointed, or being considered for appointment, to the project. Employing a consultant on a regular contract for maintenance will enable you to obtain professional advice on all these issues whenever it is needed.
Selecting a property consultant
A list of property consultants who have worked in schools in Essex is available here: Essex Property Consultants _revised Sep16.docx. There are other property consultancy companies not on the list who may also be fine of the school to use. When considering the services offered by consultants, please consider:
Membership of a professional body
Consultants should be a member of a professional body such as the Royal
Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Royal Institute of British
Architects (RIBA) the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB) or the Chartered
Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE). A professional membership is confirmation that they have received adequate training and have kept up-to-date with new developments in their field.
Will the member of staff who will be providing the service have the knowledge required to give the right advice? This is particularly important if the project is in any way specialist such as asbestos removal or work to engineering services. As a minimum all consultants working for schools should have knowledge of the DCSF (formerly the DfES) Building Bulletins and other technical standards applicable to schools.
Is there sufficient staff to provide the service required during holidays etc.? How do they deal with out-of-hours emergencies? Is it easy to get hold of them?
Health and Safety
Are they familiar with the health and safety legislation relating to the project? The legislation that requires health and safety to be taken into account during all stages of a building project is the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations (CDM).
Do they carry adequate Professional Indemnity (PI) insurance? It is essential that consultants carry sufficient PI insurance. The amount of cover will depend on the nature and size of the project.
What other similar school projects have they worked on? Can they provide suitable references?


If the school needs to engage a contractor, it should also strongly consider engaging a property consultant to procure and manage the contractor. Contractors should be vetted by the property consultant, taking the following into account.
·         Health and safety policy
·         Health and safety awareness
·         Financial stability
·         Membership of trade bodies
·         Public Liability Insurance
·         Technical competence (certification/registration)

Prioritising Work

In general, community, voluntary controlled and foundation schools are responsible for repair and maintenance work up to £10,000 in value, and the local authority for capital maintenance projects above £10,000.

Voluntary Aided schools are responsible for revenue maintenance in the same way, but governors apply to the Locally Coordinated Voluntary Aided Programme (LCVAP) for capital funding.

The prioritisation system for capital maintenance is common to all types of school, and is based on the Asset Management Plan (AMP) Condition survey grading system.

Community and Foundation schools are expected to make a contribution towards local authority funded capital works, using a formula of £40 per pupil endorsed by the Schools Forum.  VA schools are required by the DfE/EFA to make a 10% contribution from governors’ funds towards any project funded from LCVAP, and the two Dioceses usually also expect a contribution from schools’ Devolved Formula Grant.

AMP Condition surveys
AMP Condition surveys are carried out by professional building consultants working to criteria set down by ECC and agreed with the AMP Consultative Group. This ensures consistency. The last condition surveys were carried out in 2013-14 and the results are available to schools via the Direct Audits website, for which each school has been provided a log-in and password. The surveys examine each block of a school’s premises, and the site’s external areas and playing fields. The assessment criteria for each piece of work are set out below:
Effect on User
1. Urgent work to prevent immediate closure of premises and/or address a high H&S or legislative risk
2. Essential work to prevent serious operational impact and/or address a less serious H&S or legislative risk
3. Desirable work to prevent operational impact and/or address a low H&S or legislative risk
4. No real maintenance concern.
D. Bad Life expired and/or serious risk of imminent failure
C. Poor Exhibiting major defects and/or not operating as intended
B. Satisfactory Performing as intended but exhibiting some minor deterioration
A. Good Performing as intended
Effect on Building
D. Bad Life expired and/or serious risk of imminent failure
C. Poor Exhibiting major defects and/or not operating as intended
B. Satisfactory Performing as intended but exhibiting some minor deterioration
A. Good Performing as intended
The scores attributed to these values combine to form the Prioritisation Rating
The most important consideration is the effect an element in poor condition is having on a building's users and that criterion leads the rating, 1 being most urgent and 4 being least urgent. This is combined with the higher rating of condition and effect on building to form a two character priority rating from 1D (most urgent) to 4A (least urgent).
Please note however that:
• It is unlikely that sufficient resources will be available to fully meet needs in any one year of a five-year programme. The condition survey expresses ‘needs’ without reference to ‘means’ and there should therefore be no assumption that, for example, all priority 2 work can be attended to within 2-3years of assessment.
• School responsibilities are noted in the AMP condition survey for guidance only.
• A number of factors can affect prioritisation, for example imminence of other building work affecting programming of required repairs, such as planned extension/ remodelling of accommodation for Basic Need purposes
• Consultants will sometimes recommend groupings of associated work which can save money, time and disruption if carried out and programmed under a single contract.  For example where re-roofing work is being planned for a flat roof that has reached the end of its economic life, roof lights may also be replaced at the same time, even if the assessment rating isn’t quite as high.
A Forward Maintenance Plan uses the prioritisation system explained above, but sets the work identified within assumed resourcing levels. Budgetary uncertainties can affect the implementation of the Plan, as will sudden unexpected failures of elements requiring emergency work. There is a sum earmarked within each year’s programme for emergency works and for unexpected deceleration in the deterioration of a particular element. However, it is intended that the prioritisation of work should remain largely as in the Plan even if the programme cannot be delivered within the original planned timescale.


Capital Funding

The Local Authority (LA) receives the majority of its capital funding in the form of annual formulaic allocations direct from the Education Funding Agency (EFA), mainly in the form of grant but sometimes as borrowing approval. This funding is used to cover all payments on current capital schemes and fees to design and develop projects planned for subsequent financial years. Occasionally the LA also receives specific ‘targeted’ capital allocations which as the name suggests are targeted at ensuring delivery of key programmes or policies.
Basic Need
This funding is allocated to enable to LA to deliver projects to provide sufficient school places, either by new build schools or extension/remodelling projects to existing schools, in areas of growth and new housing developments. The Infrastructure Delivery Team works closely with colleagues in the School Organisation team in order to determine, through a comparison of forecast pupil numbers against available school(s) capacity, where additional places are required.
Extensions to existing schools will be considered where there is sufficient site capacity. New build schools are now required to be Academies or Free Schools.
School Building Capital Maintenance
This funding stream provides the resources for the LA’s School Building Capital Maintenance programme, which addresses major building condition issues. The Asset Management Plan condition surveys provide the means of determining the capital investment priorities using consistent and equitable criteria.
Capital Maintenance is defined as costing more than £10,000 including professional fees. Revenue Maintenance is defined as costing less than £10,000 and remains the responsibility of the school to fund. Typical capital maintenance projects include:
• Major re-roofing
• Replacement of boilers and associated pipework/controls
• Replacement of windows and window walling
• Major resurfacing work to playgrounds and/or car parks
• Major electrical works such as re-wiring, replacement of lighting
Devolved Formula Capital
Allocations are notified to schools annually by the Infrastructure Delivery team and can be rolled forward by up to three years. The implications of the CIPFA Definition of Capital in the context of Formula Capital are that capital funding:
• must not be used for general maintenance, redecoration or routine repairs;
• must not be used for the purchase of books or training;
• is distinct from any element for routine repairs and maintenance that may be included in delegated Fair Funding budgets;
• must not fund leases in respect of equipment or facilities;
• may not be used for hire of temporary accommodation, unless part of a larger project
Funding for Maintenance
Maintenance budgets for school buildings fall into two areas - Revenue and Capital. The following sections demonstrate the difference between them and provide guidance on their management.
Revenue Maintenance
This budget is delegated to schools and is used for day-to-day repairs and servicing. Schools are advised to ensure that they have a formal agreement in place with a contractor or contractors to deal with day-to-day repairs and emergency call outs, as well as for servicing equipment and planned preventative maintenance. Contracts should be drawn up with advice from your property consultant.  Schools should consider carefully the contents/clauses of any contract in order to ensure that their key requirements are met.  This could for instance include:
·         Round the clock (24 hour) 365 day breakdown and emergency call-out service
·         Requirement that repairs and renewals must be effected using equal or manufacturer’s approved materials wherever practical.
·         Required response time for emergency call-out (could be prioritized into bands depending on urgency)
·         Any other requirements that the school feels are essential
Schools should ensure that all building elements are effectively maintained and kept in good working order using their revenue budget.  Where an element has failed or come to the end of its working life, replacement or renewal through the Capital Maintenance programme will be considered, but only where the cost will be above the capital de minimis of £10,000.
Capital Maintenance
This programme is managed by the LA through a partnership arrangement with Mitie and Atkins, and is used to deliver maintenance projects with a ‘capital’ cost, i.e. greater than £10,000 (including consultants fees) in value. Work is identified and prioritised using the AMP Condition surveys carried out at each school.
Capital maintenance work Community and Voluntary Controlled Schools is delivered via the partnerships above. In the case of Foundation Schools, where the LA does not own the premises, the school will be offered the opportunity to manage and deliver any specific agreed project. In this instance, the school will manage the appointment of a consultant, who is responsible for delivering the project to budget, to programme, to the full specification, and meeting all appropriate standards and regulations. Voluntary Aided schools will manage their projects in a similar fashion, but in their case grant is awarded under the Locally Co-ordinated Voluntary Aided Programme (LCVAP) for capital funding (see below).
LCVAP programme (VA schools only)
All capital maintenance and improvement works at VA schools are the responsibility of the school Governors (with the exception of playing fields), and VA schools therefore have to apply for LCVAP funding for this purpose via the relevant Diocese.  Priority will be given to major maintenance projects that address Condition issues, using the same prioritisation criteria as for the LA programme. There will usually be an annual bidding round for LCVAP funding, for which an allocation is made to each LA by the EFA, and the two Dioceses will write to schools inviting bids, usually in the Autumn for funding in the following financial year. For more information and advice, schools should contact their relevant Diocesan representative.
Emergency Bids
It is recognised that failure of an element of a building can happen unexpectedly, despite good stewardship and maintenance regimes carried out by a school. If such a failure occurs, and the cost to rectify is greater than £10,000 (including professional fees), there is an emergency bidding procedure for schools, via the Mitie Helpdesk ( / 03330 132288). In the case of Community, Foundation and Voluntary Controlled Schools, this may result in a Reactive Maintenance Assessment (RMA) being carried out if it is suspected that a major failure has occurred, and if this is the case, remedial works will be funded through funds earmarked for this purpose in the Capitalised Maintenance programme.

Managing Asbestos

The legal duty
The duty to manage asbestos is contained in regulation 4 of the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012. The following action must be taken by schools if built (or any part built) before 1999.
1.    A person at the school should be appointed to:
·         manage asbestos in the premises
·         carry out risk assessments
·         monitor asbestos containing materials in accordance with the risk assessment
·         keep the asbestos register up-to-date
·         produce (and review) the asbestos management plan
2.    All schools should have an asbestos register. Schools must assess the risk from asbestos-containing materials (this is called the material assessment) and assess the risk of someone disturbing the materials containing asbestos (called the priority assessment).
3.    With this information schools must decide how they are going to manage the risk. For example it may be necessary to label, seal, protect or remove the material.
4.    Schools must ensure that the asbestos register is available to anyone who is liable to work on or disturb materials containing asbestos. There must be a system in place to control maintenance or building work.
5.    Schools must understand that the asbestos register is not the result of an intrusive survey and that more asbestos may be present in the building. No demolition or intrusive work must therefore be carried out without investigating the possibility of further asbestos being present (commission a ‘Refurbishment & Demolition’ survey for the proposed works).
6.    Every school built before 1999 must produce an asbestos management plan whether or not asbestos has been identified in the asbestos register.
7.    Schools should appoint a qualified property consultant to advise them on any issue relating to asbestos.
Essex County Council has produced a policy, HSP 9.17 ‘Managing Asbestos’ which gives guidance on how to comply with the legal duty to manage asbestos. It applies to Essex County Council buildings and other buildings used by Council staff. Although Headteachers are responsible for implementing this policy they may delegate the task of managing asbestos to another member of staff provided that person has the authority and competence to implement the policy effectively, particularly in respect of controlling building and maintenance work on the premises. The Headteacher will still retain overall responsibility.
The ECC policy, together with the associated documentation are available on the secure area of the Essex Schools Infolink –
Asbestos management plans
The regulations require each site to produce a written asbestos management plan, which sets out how the risks are to be managed, particularly in respect of managing building work. The Health and Safety Executive states that the plan should be written to reflect the size and complexity of the premises and the maintenance arrangements in place. The Council has produced an asbestos management plan template HSF 126. Use of this template is not compulsory and might be inappropriate for larger sites where the maintenance arrangements are more complex, however most schools should find this sufficient.
Asbestos registers
In 1999 the Council started a comprehensive programme of asbestos surveys of all of its buildings which included all Community and Voluntary Controlled schools being surveyed and supplied with an asbestos register. Foundation and Voluntary Aided schools arranged for their own asbestos surveys to be carried out which were grant-aided by the Council.
An asbestos register is a record of the location and condition of all known or presumed asbestos-containing materials found during the survey. The survey was restricted to reasonably accessible parts of the building and no intrusion was made into the structure of the building or into ducts. It is important to read the guidance notes at the beginning of the register to understand how the information is presented and the limitations of the register.
Where asbestos is likely to be found in buildings
Asbestos is most likely to be present if the building was constructed or refurbished between 1950 and 1980, particularly if it has a steel frame. The most likely place for asbestos to be found is the boiler room where asbestos was extensively used for thermal insulation of boilers. Asbestos was finally banned in the U.K. in 1999 and so any building constructed after that can be assumed to contain no asbestos. Some asbestos-containing materials are more vulnerable to damage and more likely to give off fibres than others. The Council’s policy provides more information.
The highest risk materials are:
• Asbestos pipe lagging & sprayed insulation
• Asbestos insulation board (AIB) wall linings, ceiling tiles & door panels
The lowest risk materials are:
• Asbestos cement sheets
• Floor tiles
• Toilet cisterns
Using property consultants
Throughout the policy reference is made to the need to obtain advice from a property consultant. A consultant should, for example, be employed to assist with carrying out the assessments and producing the action plan. An appropriate consultant would be the firm of surveyors employed to manage the maintenance of the school buildings. If schools do not currently use consultants for this purpose they are strongly advised to do so in order to have access to professional advice on asbestos issues
Putting asbestos risks in proportion
Remember, although asbestos is a hazardous material, it can only pose a risk to health if the asbestos fibres become airborne and then inhaled. Asbestos-containing materials only release fibres into the air when they are disturbed. Most Council premises built before 1985 will contain some asbestos but if the material is in good condition and is unlikely to be disturbed or damaged, it is much safer to leave it in place and monitor it. This is true even in parts of the building where people work regularly. It is important, therefore, not to exaggerate the risks of asbestos, particularly when communicating with staff. Asbestos should be respected but not feared.
Further information can be obtained from:
• The school’s property consultant
• The ECC policy HSP 9.17 'Managing Asbestos’ 
• The HSE Approved Code of Practice L143 ‘Managing and working with asbestos’ and associated documents
• Specialist consultants/contractors  

Managing Legionella

Health and Safety legislation requires employers and those in control of premises to manage the risks from the presence of legionella bacteria in water systems. This section summarises these responsibilities to assist schools to exercise their responsibilities effectively in relation to the management of legionella.
Health and Safety Responsibilities
The primary health and safety responsibilities rest with the employer, i.e. the County Council in the case of County Council premises, community schools and voluntary controlled schools. Headteachers are designated as ‘Duty Holders’ for these schools.
In the case of Academies, Foundation and Voluntary Aided schools, the governing body is the employer. The employer has to consider the risks from legionella that may affect their staff or members of the public and take suitable precautions.
An employer or a person in control of the premises must:
·         Identify and assess sources of risk (carry out a risk assessment)
·         Prepare a ‘Written Control Scheme’ (or sometimes known as a ‘Management Plan’) for preventing or controlling the risk where required, ensuring it is kept up to date
·         Implement and manage the scheme, appointing a person to be managerially responsible, (referred to as the’ Responsible person’)
·         Keep records and check that what has been done is effective; and if appropriate notify the Local Authority of the presence of any cooling tower(s) on site.
Employees also have a duty for the protection of their own Health and Safety and to co-operate with the County Council in the implementation of arrangements to satisfy its statutory Health and Safety duties. 
Documentation and Guidance
An approved code of practice Legionnaires Disease: The control of legionella bacteria in water systems (L8)has been published by the Health and Safety Executive. In addition, Essex County Council has published a code of practice, HSP 9.38 ‘Legionella’ which sets out the Council’s arrangements with regard to managing legionella and details the action required for the correct operation and maintenance of water systems to control the risks from legionella bacteria.
The code of practice is aimed at all people who have the responsibility and legal duty for the safe operation and design of the County’s buildings and their water services. If contractors or consultants are appointed by or on behalf of an employer, there is a duty to ensure that all their works comply with “The Control of Legionella Bacteria in Water Systems (L8)” and, for the County’s buildings, the ECC code of practice.
The ECC Code of Practice, together with the associated documentation are available on the secure area of the Essex Schools InfoLink –
ECC Legionella Risk Assessment Programme
Historically as part of its duty as an employer, the County Council implemented a programme to undertake legionella risk assessment surveys in all County premises, including Community and Voluntary Controlled schools where the County Council is the employer. Specialist contractors were employed to carry this out. In addition, these surveys have been offered to Voluntary Aided and Foundation schools to provide information that may assist the governing bodies of these schools to exercise their responsibilities as employers in relation to the control of legionella. These surveys will now be out of date and the school needs to ensure that an up-to-date survey is available.
School Responsibility
It is a school responsibility to ensure that an up-to-date risk assessment is in place and that this is managed appropriately. Details of these requirements can be found in the ECC code of practice HSP 9.38 ‘Legionella’. Briefly, these requirements include:
·         ensuring there is a risk assessment and it is kept up-to-date
·         monitoring of water temperatures and flushing regimes
·         regular maintenance of the water systems and associated equipment;
·         the need to rectify or put in place a risk based prioritised programme for the remedial works;
·         review of the assessment;
·         the provision of training and record keeping.
Monitoring or temperature checking is to be carried out to make sure that the hot and cold water systems are operating at the correct temperature and safely. This is separate from the laboratory type testing or sampling for the Legionella bacteria. This monitoring is intended to be exclusively for the prevention of legionnaire’s disease and excludes any other monitoring that may be required by other legislation, Codes of Practice or guidance documents. 
Further information can be obtained from:
• The school’s property consultant
• The ECC code of practice HSP 9.38 'Legionella’  
• The HSE Approved Code of Practice L8 ‘Legionnaires’ disease. The control of legionella bacteria in water systems’ and associated documents
• Specialist consultants/contractors

Fire Risk Assessment

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order, introduced from October 2006, repealed all previous fire safety legislation including the Fire Precautions Act 1971. Fire certificates no longer have legal status and fire risk assessments must now be carried out for all non-domestic premises. Schools have never been legally required to hold a fire certificate and so these will unfortunately not be available to assist with the assessment. A simple line drawing of the premises should therefore be prepared showing the fire safety arrangements (fire extinguishers, fire alarm call points etc.) This will be very useful as a starting point for the assessment, and will help you in regular checks of your fire precautions. Although most schools are likely to have reasonable measures in place already it is almost inevitable that the assessment will reveal that further action is required.
How to carry out a fire risk assessment
Analysis must be made of the risks, the likelihood of the event occurring and its potential severity. Consideration should be given to the effectiveness of existing control measures and who may be affected before deciding if further action is needed. For large sites it may be appropriate to carry out a separate assessment of each block. A fire risk assessment involves the following: • identify fire hazards (sources of ignition, fuel, and oxygen) and the people at risk • evaluate the risk of a fire starting and the risk to people from a fire • remove or reduce fire hazards and the risks to people from a fire • protect people by providing fire precautions • prepare an emergency plan • inform building users and train staff • record your findings and action required • review the fire risk assessment. A fire risk assessment form has been designed by Essex County Council to cover the above. The form can be used for a fire risk assessment in Essex schools. It is also available via the Essex Schools InfoLink –
The headteacher, premises manager or their nominated delegate should carry out the assessment. Any deficiencies identified should be resolved with the aid of professional advice from your property consultant or a competent fire risk assessor. If a solution cannot be found, your consultant will seek an opinion from the Fire and Rescue service, which is the enforcement authority for the new legislation. For schools, an appropriate property consultant would be the firm of surveyors employed to manage the maintenance of the school buildings. If schools do not currently use consultants for this purpose they are strongly advised to do so.
The completed fire risk assessment should be kept on site, available for inspection, together with the emergency plan and the fire register. The fire register is a record of fire drills, fire alarm testing etc. A fire register template, together with examples of completed fire risk assessments can be found on the Essex Schools InfoLink.
Premises managers and their consultants are advised to obtain copies of the appropriate fire safety guides published by HM Government. There are eleven guides available some of which  are likely to be of relevance to schools. These are Educational Premises, Small and Medium Places of Assembly, Sleeping Accommodation (residential schools) and Means of Escape for the Disabled. The guides are available from The Stationery Office  or can be downloaded free of charge from the internet (
Further information on fire risk assessment is available from the ECC Corporate Health and Safety Team (telephone 03330 139818 or e-mail

Landlord Consent

In the case of community schools the landlord is the County Council. Effectively, the County also acts as landlord for Voluntary Controlled schools. In the case of Voluntary Aided or Voluntary Controlled schools, the County Council generally owns the playing fields and the diocese (or trustees) the school buildings, although there are exceptions. V/A and V/C schools are all aware of their local arrangements.

In each case, Community, Voluntary Controlled, or Voluntary Aided, the school’s governing body acts as the “designated landlord”. The designated landlord acts as the ‘on-site’ landlord and is therefore the first point of contact for the tenant, speaking with the voice of ECC (or of their diocese) in a designated capacity. ECC or the diocese remains the actual landlord, and larger issues or matters of dispute would be referred as appropriate.

Any part of the ECC playing field affected by a building project, becoming building footprint or hard paved, at a V/A or V/C school should be notified to Essex Property and Facilities so that a statutory transfer to the diocese or trustees can be made on completion of the works.  This should not affect the day-to-day management of the combined site.

When a Community, Voluntary Controlled, or Voluntary Aided school converts to academy status, the school’s ECC owned land is leased to the academy on a standard 125 year lease. ECC is then the formal landlord, and larger issues or matters of dispute would be referred as appropriate; in addition, all projects of any size or structural effect will need to apply for Landlord’s Consent as below.  If ECC promotes, funds and manages a project on the academy site (e.g., extension for basic need places) ECC (through our agents, Lambert Smith Hampton) will need to seek a building licence with the academy for the duration of the works.

If a project requires a statutory transfer at a V/A or V/C academy, then the academy lease will need to be varied to suit the new situation.

The governing body of a Foundation school (including a foundation school belonging to a Schools’ Trust) acts as the freeholder of the school’s estate. Although Foundation schools are therefore not required to submit formal landlord consent applications, if their proposed projects are likely to have an effect on their net capacity they should contact Robert Greenwold in the Capital Programme Team, who will liaise with School Organisation and Planning colleagues to check that there are no strategic issues arising from the proposed changes.

When a foundation school converts to academy status, the school’s land becomes the freehold of the Academy Trust.  If ECC promotes, funds and manages a project on the academy site (e.g., extension for basic need places) ECC (through our agents, LambertSmithHampton) will need to seek Landlord’s Consent from the academy for the project works.

The County Council has a variety of strategic property objectives, amongst which is the drive to consider the wider delivery of community services on school sites wherever this is appropriate. In this context, schools are expected to liaise with the local authority in order to achieve optimum use of the public estate. Use of land or accommodation by third parties is covered under ‘Land use, lettings and leases’ below.


Consents for change of use and/or physical change to premises

All significant changes in use of land or buildings, and all significant construction work, must have landlord consent. (This will be ECC, the Diocese, the Governing Body or the Trustees depending on the type of school.)Note that in addition such changes may also require Planning Consent, this is dealt with under ‘Land use, lettings and leases’ below.

Building Regulations consents may also be required, please consult your professional advisors.

In the majority of cases, projects for which landlord consent is required will be linked to particular funding initiatives – for example, Devolved Formula Capital Grant or projects funded from balances accumulated in their own revenue budget– and there will be a specific variant of landlord consent form for that initiative (for example, form FCG2C in the case of devolved formula capital grant).

Electronic versions of these forms are posted on the Essex Schools intranet, together with guidance on completing and submitting them. Where a proposed project is not linked to a funding initiative (for example, where the scheme will be funded from the school’s revenue budget) schools should contact Robert Greenwold (telephone 03330 131865).


Statutory Consents granted by the Secretary of State for Education (DfE consents)

If significant changes in use of land or buildings, or significant construction works, result in any loss of school site area that is not playing fields, i.e., buildings or access areas, DfE consent will be required under Schedule 1of the Academies Act.

If significant changes in use of land or buildings, or significant construction work, results in any loss of school playing field land, DfE consent will probably be required for Change of Use. The protection of school playing fields legislation defines playing field land (aka net site area) as:

Playing fields / soft PE / pitches suitable for playing team games;

Games courts / hard PE

Informal and social soft play areas;

Habitat (ponds, gardens, orchards, allotments, wooded areas etc.)

So this consent is needed if there is any extension of buildings or access onto any part of the site used by pupils over the previous 10 years this will usually be the whole site inside any safeguarding / security fencing.

All school projects should be notified to Essex Property and Facilities so that the relevant DfE consents can be commissioned.  (If it is a project managed by infrastructure Delivery, then separate notification by the school should not be needed.)  This information may be added to the Landlord’s consent form, preferably with a site plan(s) showing the effects on the whole site.

Premises Health and Safety

Health and Safety covers such a vast array of issues and this handbook can most usefully refer the reader to the Essex Schools Infolink –
(Note: A password is required to access the health and safety secure areas of the Infolink. This is available to all Community and Voluntary Controlled schools, as well as schools currently purchasing a health and safety service from Essex County Council Corporate Health and Safety).
Sections cover:
      Accident Reporting
      Curriculum, Education and Learning
      Health and Safety Management
      Outdoor Learning, School Events and Keeping Animals
      Pupil Related Issues
      School Facilities, Premises Management and Contents
      Staff Related Issues  
Within these sections are a wealth of information in the form of policies, forms, guidance, risk assessments and templates. They cover a range of curriculum activities including:
      Art and Crafts
      Design and Technology
      Drama and Theatre
      Food Technology and Textiles
      Metal Work
      Physical Education
Also available on the secure area of the Essex Schools Infolink in relation to managing property are topics such as:
      Caretaking Activities
      Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)
      Hazard Reporting
      Kitchen Safety
      Portable Electrical Appliance testing
Further information on health and safety in schools is available from the ECC Corporate Health and Safety team by contacting: Email: Tel: 03330 139818


Premises Security

There is no model solution to problems with the security of school premises. Every school is different and its needs should be assessed accordingly. Type and condition of buildings, location and site layout are relevant but the human factor is paramount.
The Risks
If there is no evidence or history in your school of a threat to the children, staff or valuables, you may conclude that security measures need not be extreme. Do not be tempted to create a fortress if the circumstances suggest that this is unnecessary. However, certain standards should be regarded as minimum for every school.
It is wise to identify the problems relevant to your school before deciding on any new or additional measures. Advice and support in this task is available without charge from a range of sources including the Insurance Team, local police crime prevention officers and documents on the insurance pages of the Essex Schools InfoLink. Specialist security companies shouldn’t be used initially as some may attempt to sell their products and services even though they may not be the most appropriate to the school’s needs or resources.
Measures to combat security threats depend very much on specific circumstances. The risks should be identified and, if schools need assistance, the  Insurance Team can provide guidance on the best options. It does not necessarily involve extravagant or expensive solutions. 
The documents on the insurance pages of the Essex Schools InfoLink that can assist schools with security include:
Security guidance during school holidays
Guidance to prevent theft of lead
Guidance to prevent computer theft


One feature of educational building stock is that for over 66% of their life they are unoccupied, thereby presenting an easy target for unauthorised use or theft. With this in mind Essex County Council offer a comprehensive package of insurance which is monitored by a professional in-house team.


The ECC Insurance Team

The Insurance Team deals with all aspects of insurance, including but not limited to property, liability, pupil off sites visits, hirers’ liability and volunteers. Please contact the Insurance Team, to discuss these insurance services. 

In addition to insurance, an operational risk management service is also provided – at no additional cost. This service is undertaken by the in house staff, in conjunction with the Authority’s Insurers, who will carry out a comprehensive survey of your site. This takes the form of a site visit based around issues which may have been identified by your own risk assessments, where you have concerns regarding the security of your pupils, staff or property and where your claims history shows a worrying trend. This is followed up with a comprehensive report enabling schools to develop a business plan to address issues identified. It also provides practical advice on how to address such matters. 

For more information, please contact the team: 


Service Area      Insurance Team - General Enquiries

Telephone          0333 013 9819


Website               Insurance Team



Rising energy prices now mean that energy bills are a large proportion of annual school expenditure. The Department for Education estimates that the average cost of energy in a primary school in 2015 is £27,000 – double the expenditure in 2011, just four years ago. Energy consumption in schools can vary depending on the age of the buildings, their state of repair, occupancy hours and the amount and type of electrical equipment installed. Apart from reducing fuel bills, using energy more sustainably can also enhance pupil learning. Energy monitoring, for instance, provides direct engagement opportunities in the subjects of maths, geography, science and ICT.
Sources of energy waste are often the same regardless of school size or type. The charts below show where the biggest savings can be made. They are divided into energy use and energy cost and comparing them could help school managers decide which areas to prioritise. For example, note how much energy lighting uses – 8% – but then compare that with what it may be costing – as much as 20%.  Reducing energy use can save schools money on energy bills as well as lower carbon emissions from schools operations. Energy efficiency can also benefit teachers, pupils and staff by improving a building’s thermal comfort.
A good first step is to perform an energy self-assessment of the buildings by following the template developed by Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) which will guide you through an energy audit to identify the most effective options for energy improvements.
Another useful resource is Carbon Trust’s Schools guide, which presents low and no-cost solutions schools can adopt to reduce energy consumption.

Renewable Energy

After analysing energy use and reducing energy waste, schools may want to consider generating energy on-site. Renewable energy technologies utilise natural and recurring energy sources to generate electricity and/or heat. Electricity can be provided by solar photovoltaic panels and wind turbines while renewable heating systems include biomass boilers, solar thermal (water heating) and ground source heat pumps which could supply heating and hot water. For more information about each technology please see the guide at the PlanLoCal website.
It is important to identify the appropriate renewable energy technology in the first instance. Factors to consider include the current mix of energy use (How much heat/electricity is being used?) and whether energy demand is constant or fluctuates between night and day and between seasons. Technologies such as wood-fuelled boilers might also need extra storage space.
Choosing a supplier
If you decide to invest in a renewable energy system the first step is to speak to a range of potential suppliers to assess quality. Schools should look for:
·         A demonstrable track record of experience and/ or qualifications in the relevant field. This may be demonstrated by their professional accreditation, CV, case studies, testimonials etc.
·         Value for money: getting as many quotes as possible will help you to establish a reasonable cost for the work in the current market.
For solar PV installations, the CSE developed a useful checklist to help customers to ask installers the right questions; ensuring they get the best solar system. The checklist is available at this link.
A qualified and experienced consultant can assess the feasibility, likely performance and energy outputs, i.e. the long term income which repays the investment. They can also advise on the most appropriate technology. Below 50kWs for electricity and 45kWs for heat, MCS installer companies can act as consultants and will usually be able to provide you with a free quote with written estimates of outputs and costs (search suppliers in the MCS database here). It is important that both the renewable energy system and the installer are accredited under the MCS so your school can be eligible for the Feed-in Tariff or the Renewable Heat Incentive.
Planning issues
Schools considering the installation of renewable energy such as solar panels on a school building can seek free advice on planning permission from the Essex’s Development Management team on or call 03330 139 808. Solar panels mounted on a school building are generally considered to be Permitted Development for non-domestic buildings. However, there are important limits and conditions which must be met to benefit from the permitted development rights (see regulations at the Planning Portal).
Landlord consent
Schools must register projects with their landlord, whether that is the Local Authority, Diocese, Sponsor or Trust. Community schools, voluntary controlled schools and those Academies where Essex County Council is still the landlord need to submit an application to ECC Infrastructure Delivery team for landlord consent to the installation of renewable energy systems such as solar panels. For more information email 

Grants and finance

Funding for energy projects can come from grants, crowdfunding, loans, private investors, community share offers or government incentives:
·         Grantnet is a service offered by Essex County Council to help local groups to identify funding opportunities. This is linked to a database containing details of over 4,000 UK and EU funding sources. In order to use the service, just follow the link near the bottom of this page, and you will be required to sign up using an email address. You can search as many times and as often as you like.
·         Salix Finance, an independent, publicly funded, not-for-profit company provides interest-free loans to schools for investing in energy efficiency projects.
·         Solar Schools is an innovative campaign that provides schools with the tools, training, and support they need to fundraise the cost of installing solar panels. The initiative has helped 65 schools in England to raise more than £500,000 so far through fundraising activities that bring together children and families, businesses and local communities. Read the Solar Schools Blog to learn from the success of other schools and get inspired to start your own project.
Feed-in Tariffs
Feed-In Tariffs (FiTs) are payments introduced by government to help increase the level of renewable energy in the UK. FiTs are available to everyone, including households, businesses and schools; and applies to a number of technologies (solar PV panels, wind turbines, water turbines, etc.). The scheme provides three financial benefits:        
·         Generation tariff: a payment for the electricity produced, even if used on-site
·         Export tariff: additional payments for electricity exported into the grid
·         Energy bill savings: a reduction on energy costs by generating your own energy
Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI)
The Renewable Heat Incentive is a payment scheme designed to encourage adoption of renewable heat systems. Eligible technologies include biomass boilers, ground and water source heat pumps and solar thermal. The RHI provides payments for the heat produced renewably for 20 years, but the up-front costs need to be funded by schools.

Purchase of energy

In summer 2015 schools have been offered the opportunity to join Essex County Council group energy contract which will offer competitive pricing on energy through Utilyx. ECC group energy supply contracts are due for renewal on 1 April 2016 and further details about the new contract will be released in Sept/2015. Schools are strongly advised to take full advantage of this arrangement in order to maximise the substantial savings being offered. Further information in this regard can be found at the Director's Area on Essex Schools InfoLink or contact

Energy certificates

Energy certificates rate the energy performance of a building. The idea is similar to the well-established energy labels for the sale of white goods such as fridges and washing machines. Two types of energy certificate are required in different circumstances: Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs) for all buildings when they are constructed, sold or rented out; and Display Energy Certificates (DECs) for large (over 500m²) public buildings occupied by public authorities providing a public service (e.g. schools). EPCs are also required by OFGEM to access some financial incentives when installing renewable energy systems (e.g. Feed-in Tariffs).
Display Energy Certificates (DECs) show the actual energy usage of a building, the Operational Rating, and help the public see the energy efficiency of a building. This is based on the energy consumption of the building as recorded by gas, electricity and other meters. DECs should be clearly displayed at all times in a prominent place clearly visible to the public and are valid for one year. A DEC is always accompanied by an Advisory Report that lists cost effective measures to improve the energy rating of the building (this report is valid for 7 years).

Lettings, Licenses and Leases

Land use
Changes in the use of land or buildings may not always require physical works but may require planning permission and/or landlord consent for change of use, e.g., changing a caretaker’s house into teaching or storage space. Advice on any proposed changes that might require planning permission and/or landlord consent for change of use should be referred in the first instance to Robert Greenwold in ECC Infrastructure Delivery. (Telephone 03330131865)
Use of land by third parties is covered under Leases and Licences below.
Lettings, Leases and Licences
Do not permit any third party into occupation of school premises without a legal agreement being in place. Schools must act early in the process to advise the County of their plans as it may take many months to agree terms and complete the necessary legal documents.
All schools should derive maximum benefit from third party use of school premises. Clearly such benefit might not always be entirely monetary, but it is important in all cases to set charges at realistic rates. Market valuations can be obtained from the County Council’s professional estates consultants Lambert Smith Hampton, at school cost. Becky Allum can provide contact details for this advice, which can be very cost effective.
(Telephone 03330132285)
All schools will have their own agreed procedures and pricing structure for casual hiring and periodic casual letting of their buildings and playing fields.
Schools must ensure they do not enter in to any agreements for the use of their premises that might lead to the loss of possession. Unless there are very exceptional circumstances, it is unlikely that any agreement for a period longer than five years would be agreed. The circumstances under which possession can be lost are many and schools should always seek appropriate professional advice. The areas that need to be considered include:
• Extent of the property to be let and the period of the agreement
• Letting charge and periodic reviews
• Other costs - heat, light, water, telephone, etc.
• Security, access and car parking
• Responsibility for repairs, maintenance, cleaning and caretaking
• The third party insurance arrangements
• Restricting the use of the property being occupied
• Prohibition of subletting
• How and when possession can be regained
Leases and licences
Foundation Schools and Academies manage their own leases and licences as part of the Foundation and academy status and consequently this section does not generally apply. However, such schools may if they wish contact Becky Allum for advice and guidance, (telephone 033301 32285 or They may also instruct Lambert Smith Hampton and / or ECC Legal Services to act on their behalf and fees will be quoted upon request.
Broadly, a lease is required when a third party gains exclusive possession to a part of the school site for an agreed period or periods of time. A licence is required to enable a third party non-exclusive possession to a part of the school site. An example of a lease is an arrangement for a nursery to operate out of a classbase at a school for the whole school day. A licence arrangement might be for a breakfast or after school club to use a classbase for two or three hours a day.
When schools are considering a lease or licence of property owned by the county council, it is very important that they do so in liaison with Becky Allum at Mitie / Lambert Smith Hampton(telephone 033301 32285 or; she will provide advice and appropriate documentation to enable the school to provide information so the proposal may be evaluated.
Once the school has provided the required information relating to the proposal, Mitie / Lambert Smith Hampton will undertake a site analysis and in conjunction with ECC client groups will evaluate whether the proposed lease or licence is feasible and identify which, if any, statutory consents are required from the DfE.  Whether a proposal is viable will be dependent on sufficient site area when measured against current DfE Area Guidelines being available and factors including but not limited to planned capital projects, basic need expansion or proposed relocation of a school. . An organisation or person exclusively occupying accommodation or land on an Essex County Council school site for a period may gain security of tenure. In order to protect the school and Essex County Council from this happening, a lease or licence must be drawn up and completed by the parties concerned prior to occupation. In the first instance, the school should contact Becky Allum.
Once the required information has been returned to Becky Allum at Mitie. Lambert Smith Hampton, she will check the proposals are in line with ECC policies and standards and liaise with Planning and Admissions advisors, Infrastructure Delivery officers and other officers familiar with the school and its relation to any strategic or developmental issues in the area. Should the proposal be viable from a DfE and ECC perspective, the project will be formally commissioned to enable Mitie/Lambert Smith Hampton to apply for the required statutory consents from the DfE and if consent is granted, progress lease terms.  In the case of community schools, Essex Legal Services will sign and complete the lease on behalf of the school.  Please note that if the DfE is not minded to grant statutory consent, then it will not be possible to progress the proposal further. 
The lease/licence will be signed by Essex County Council but the school will be responsible for managing the arrangements of the lease/licence.