In 2022 the Government launched its property strategy for 2023-2030. In total, the government property estate totals 156.8 million m2 of gross internal floor area, of which schools comprise 50.1% at 78.7 million m2. The government’s aim is to ensure that every public sector property is efficient, functional and well utilised, as well as being greener and more sustainable. The government is looking to achieve cumulative resource savings of £500m from the operating costs of its estates by 2025, which means that schools will inevitably have a big part to play in this agenda.
In its Facilities Management Strategy 2022-2030, the Government stated that its
“… aim is to create an estate which enhances lives, enables success and ensures value, with accessible and responsive spaces, skilled professionals and quality services.”
So, is there anything new for schools to learn here? Well, yes. In the same document, the government states that,
“Every experience of FM in our buildings must be a positive one.”
Well, that’s an aspirational mantra that all school FM staff (whether in-house or outsourced) should have uppermost in their mind when they walk into their school every morning. Is the building safe, dry, warm and clean? Are the building users going to be inspired to give of their best today because the environment they will be working in encourages them to do so? If not, what positive action can we as the facilitators of those environments do to improve it?
1/ Take responsibility
First, we can take responsibility. Lieutenant General David Morrison, previously Chief of the Australian Army, made a powerful statement in a speech he gave in 2013 when he said,
“The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”
This phrase applies to everything we do in facilities and estate management in schools, from picking up the piece of litter in the playground as we walk past, to ensuring that the heating is working in all the classrooms each day.
2/ Be Proactive
Secondly, be proactive in finding ways to improve the operation of your estate. This might mean changing the type of taps from cross head wash basin taps to time flow taps to reduce the amount of water used with each use. Or identifying where heating pipes need lagging to minimise heat loss. The challenge is to think proactively as you walk around your estate or as you study the monthly reports from your CAF-M system regarding the number and type of reactive maintenance jobs that have been logged. If the same type of repair keeps occurring, then you need to be doing something different for that to change.
Thirdly, we need to upskill ourselves on how to ensure that sustainability is embedded into all our facilities management decision making and maintenance plans. Replacing a freezer in the school kitchen? Then make sure you buy an energy efficient one. Ensure that you and your team are conversant with your school or trust’s sustainability policy and plan and identify how you can contribute to it. Also take the time to read the Government’s Government Property Sustainability Strategy 2022-2030 which can be accessed via
Fourthly, ensure consistency in terms of your team’s responsiveness to facilities management issues. Your team needs to understand that staff and students are their customers and that the role they play in ensuring the school premises are fit for the purpose of teaching and learning is a crucial one. Imagine a paramedic turning up in response to your 999 call who doesn’t show much interest in your symptoms. You wouldn’t be very impressed, would you? Ensure your team display the behaviours that you should be modelling – an eagerness to learn something new every day, being reliable, consistent, and customer focussed.
Finally, want to stretch yourself and your team to do better? Then benchmark your performance against the government’s Facilities Management Standard 001: Management and Services (March 2022). This document sets the expectations for the management of all government property, and whilst not mandatory for schools, it is a very useful tool and can be accessed via:
A good place to start is by looking at Appendix 1: Core FM Services which lists all the FM services you could possibly think of. Why not RAG rate your school’s performance against all of those that apply to your estate, and then draw up an action plan to address those that you’ve rated red or amber.
So, there are plenty of ways in which you can add value to the service you and your team provide every day. Where are you going to start?
Schools should always:
- Refer to suitably qualified professionals for detailed advice and guidance
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