Rory Kennedy, the Director of Capital for the Department for Education was the keynote speaker at the Trust Network Conference, which attracted delegates representing around 100 MATs and schools from across the UK.

The event, which was hosted at Corby Technical School, shares information and best practice about estate management in the education sector. TTN was established in 2014 and now represents nearly 300 MATs and Trusts responsible for almost 3000 academies.

The day started with a welcome by James Miller from OAT, who introduced Simon Lindsay from the Department for Education and Stephen Morales, CEO of the Institute of School Business Leadership.

Mr Lindsay gave an update from the Department for Education on supporting school estate management and covered topics including funding, procurement and an update on Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS).

Mr Morales spoke about ‘Competency Frameworks and the Professionalisation of the Sector.’

Delegates took part in a carousel of six different workshops, while there was plenty of opportunity to browse ‘Procurement Street’, an exhibition space with stands and displays from education suppliers and contractors.

The keynote speaker was Rory Kennedy, Director of Capital for the DfE. He said: ‘I recognise the challenges that people face that are in charge of making our schools warm, safe and dry. Buildings are, of course, essential to the delivery of our children’s education’.

‘We have a moral and political responsibility to make sure the funding we provide to you is spent wisely. This Network is a crucial part of that; learning from each other’s experience and expertise and hopefully the Good Estate Management for Schools guidance that we are providing helps us do that together’.

‘This is a government that wants to spend more on infrastructure than governments have done for quite some time. The allocations try to direct funding where it is needed the most and support our collective aim that the school estate should be both safe and support education’.

‘A challenge for the future, but which will be absolutely crucial is energy management. The agenda is much more ambitious than just reducing energy usage as we have a statutory commitment to reach carbon zero by 2050. We are starting to pilot some initiatives on carbon zero new builds and we will be piloting some retro-fit approaches to the existing estate.

‘I’d like to highlight the good work the Trust Network does across the country. The Network was instigated by a handful of MATs, with our backing, to support new start, medium and large Academy Trusts with estate matters. Other notable Network activities include the regional meetings, online discussion and new ‘Ask the Expert’ forums and a monthly members’ newsletter. We get regular feedback and advice, so it is a really valid information channel to help us understand what you need.’

Cate Johnstone, who helped plan and organise the conference, said: ‘In planning the content for the national conference, we tend to use our regional meetings as a sounding board to find out what people are struggling with or want to know more about. For example, we knew from discussions at our last regional events that several people felt they needed further guidance on the DfE land and building consent process, so we included a workshop on that’.

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TTN hold fourth national conference: ‘Guidance into Practice’