Thinking about giving your school a fresh lick of paint over the summer? Perhaps you’re thinking about a site extension. You might even be considering building a new suite of classrooms!

When it comes to managing school condition projects, there’s a lot to take into account. And that all happens way before you can get the paintbrushes out.

The most effectively managed projects bring about a host of benefits to the school, including better use of resources and cost savings. But ultimately, condition projects are there to improve the teaching, learning, and workplace environment for all students and staff. 

So, we’re sharing three fundamentals of school condition project management to support your next one!

What is school condition project management?

Condition projects range from isolated improvements of a single room to ongoing asset and site maintenance across all parts of MAT estates. They include:

  • Switching internal system providers, from IT and telecoms to payroll
  • Relocating a whole department or individual office
  • Site extensions or rebuilding programmes
  • Sourcing temporary classrooms
  • RAAC mitigation
  • And more!

Insight: Winning CIF projects

Where schools and MATs get funding from for their project ranges. Some will be accounted for in their annual budget, some will be granted by the government on a responsive or needs basis (like for RAAC), and some of it will be acquired through bids and applications for funds like TCaF and CIF.

Let’s zone in on CIF (the Condition Improvement Fund) for a moment – these funding rounds are for eligible organisations to apply for money to improve the condition of their school buildings. In the latest round (2023-2024), 4,547 organisations were eligible to apply, with just under half (46%) submitting applications for a total of 3,061 projects.

Over a third (34%) of projects applied for were successful. By our calculations, 36% of funded projects included the word ‘urgent’ in their name, 30% stated ‘fire’, and 18% mentioned ‘roof’. All successful projects will be receiving a share of the £456 million CIF funding pot from the DfE.

What causes school condition project management to fail?

These stats got us thinking about why more than half of organisations eligible for CIF 2023-2024 didn’t apply. What was stopping them? Time? Resources? Perhaps knowing which project needs the funding most, and where to start? Maybe it was as simple as not needing the capital funding at this moment in time!

Like with anything, school condition projects are susceptible to failure. They can stall, be left unfinished, or never even get off the ground for reasons often proceeded by ‘lack of’:

  • Coordination
  • Communication
  • Budget
  • Responsibility
  • Quality control

The five points above are some of the most common barriers or points of failure in education project management. But they’re five points that can be kept in check if you follow the three fundamentals below!

1. Know what you’re trying to do and communicate this clearly

First things first, you need to make sure that everybody involved in the project is on the same page about what the project is aiming to achieve. From who’s commissioned the project to who’s managing it and bringing the vision to life, clearly communicating expectations, deliverables, and responsibilities from the get-go helps to omit any ambiguities down the line.

Combining this with project milestones and target timeframes, too, reduces confusion about who’s accountable for what needs to be done, and when! Your project will take a more effective approach to meet the intended aim, and the people involved should benefit from more hassle-free activities.

What’s more, if you use our school compliance management software (Every Compliance By IRIS) to record, track, and manage your projects, you’ll gain visibility over all activities in a central place. This means project managers can see which work has been assigned to which team member, supplier, or contractor, and the communications that have taken place under each activity.

Every Compliance gives you a central place to reference and communicate different elements of the project with the people involved. Plus, it sends automatic email alerts to key stakeholders to alert them of upcoming deadlines to help keep the project on track!

2. Understand the budget for your condition project

It’s what all projects come back to, and in some cases, it’s where they start: the budget! Clarity over the amount of budget that’s been allocated to a project and any conditions for what it can/can’t be spent on is key to minimising the risk of any cost-related issues. It’s also worth double checking those calculations to make sure that all areas of the project and any associated risk factors are covered by the money.

Whether you’ve raised the funds or successfully applied for a grant, you then need to set out a path for the school condition project. This includes laying out milestones that elements need to start/complete by to keep the project on track (and to budget). Make regular reviews of the ongoing cost, including any costs you think are likely to crop up as a result of problems that have come up mid-project. If you get an inkling that the cost is going to exceed the intended budget, befriend proactivity, and put together a plan B that includes the necessary adjustments.

Apply for more funds if necessary and/or take advantage of the reporting tools built into Project Management in Every Compliance. The software can be used to generate a range of reports to give you clarity over the ongoing success of the project, and to also provide key stakeholders (like sponsors and funding agencies) with visibility over expenditure and timelines.

3. Plan realistic timescales – and stick to them

On that note, keeping the budget in check is one thing, but keeping to timescales in a sector that sees change and challenge daily is another! This said, with clear communication and cost handling as part of your project strategy, you’re on path to keeping milestones in check. 

Tools like Gantt charts are handy for tracking project progress against the plan, and they also support you to make informed decisions about any necessary timing changes.

School condition project, complete!

Clear communication, visibility over the budget, and realistic timings are three of the core components to best school condition project management in schools.

Ensure your next condition improvement activity starts without a hitch by seeing our Project Management system in action!