As Featured in Academy Magazine
As the number of academy trusts has grown and those which have been established for a number of years increase in size, the issue of looking at estate management in the long term becomes increasingly critical.
Making the wrong decision can be costly, as well as reputationally challenging. Making an ‘informed decision’ at the start of a project in theory is the best way to avoid such pitfalls but this can be very difficult to achieve in practice. An informed decision relies upon good data and information, but where does that come from, how do you use it and what are your benchmarks for comparison?
As the maxim goes, there’s no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ when it comes to estate management decisions. Starting afresh is rarely the best use of time or money. The idea of ‘redesigning the wheel’ however, is very valid and in Estate Management can mean making systems efficient, workable and relevant to the requirements of Academies. That’s where collaboration starts to come in. Working together is always more efficient. It means sharing experiences, knowledge and data. It also enables joint use of systems.
Over the last 18 months four academy Trusts (Academies Enterprise Trust, Brooke Weston Trust, Leigh Academies Trust and Ormiston Academies Trust) have been exploring ways to achieve better estate management – including both statutory compliance and building condition – in very similar ways, using the same software and reporting solutions.
The Trust Network
The four academy Trusts are active members of The Trust Network.
This group, which offers support ‘to help maintain safe, warm & dry buildings’ is open to all academy trusts and helps to facilitates broader collaboration on estates related matters.
The purpose of the network is to provide members with an opportunity to:
- share best practice, exchange knowledge and, where needed, form a single voice to discuss issues or concerns with the Education Funding Agency and Department for
- explore how to develop effective, efficient and economically sustainable systems that maintain and develop building estates that enhance teaching and learning.
The team leading the Trust Network believe it represents a breakthrough in the way Estate Management can be supported for all independently run, state-funded schools by providing them with access to support, knowledge and systems to help them:
- Have a clear vision of building liability and responsibility.
- Embed a strategy for estates management and life cycling.
- Have sight of national/regional procurement opportunities.
- Have opportunities to share and embrace best practice.
The Trust Network enables independently run, state-funded schools to share best practice and exchange knowledge on key issues including facilities management and IT with support including events and mentoring.
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