School estates: condition reporting core facts

Guidance for local authorities reporting on the condition of school estates.

1 Introduction

The following guidance has been prepared for reporting on the condition of the School Estate. This Core Fact on condition is part of a suite of Core Facts[1] for which data is collected annually as part of the performance management regime for the School Estate Strategy[2].

This refreshed guidance has been produced as the result of a collaborative venture between the Scottish Government, Scottish Futures Trust, Scottish Heads of Property Services (local authorities), Education Scotland, Scottish Building Standards, Architecture and Design Scotland and the Association of Directors of Education in Scotland.

The refreshed guidance has been prepared to:

  • strengthen the risk-based approach to condition surveys through a raised awareness of the importance of effective risk management as an integral part of the facilities management regime, and
  • ensure greater uniformity in the scope and methodology applied to each school, by every authority, to minimise variations in assessment methods and criteria. In this context, the guidance aims to reduce the inconsistencies arising from different property officers or external contractors exercising varying but equally valid professional views, by setting out the framework within which judgements should be made.

This guidance document addresses the assessment and reporting of condition ratings for Core Fact 2 - Condition of the School Estate, which comprises, for each school:

  • the Overall Condition of the School in Conditions A to D:
  • the Overall Condition of each individual block of the School in each of Conditions A to D along with the gross internal floor area of each individual block: and
  • provides information on key aspects of property compliance with an emphasis on safer buildings.

The intent of this document is to provide guidance. It is also aimed at providing additional rigour and consistency using a risk-based approach to further improve the safety of the school estate.

What is Condition?

Condition is concerned with the current state of the fabric of the school and with safety and security.

Condition has a direct impact on what goes on in the school. Appropriate forward planning and prudent, timely decisions on ongoing maintenance will best enable authorities to sustain the quality and asset value of their school buildings over the long term. Schools in good condition - irrespective of age or design - signal to all users (pupils, teachers, staff and the community) that learning is a valued activity, that the learning environment is a priority and often gives that all important ‘feel-good factor’.

School Estate Strategy

The school estate strategy recognises the importance of identifying and reporting when schools are assessed as being in condition categories C and D, to allow plans to be made to address the situation.

Use of this document

This document should be read in conjunction with the Core Facts Overview, issued in November 2017. It sets out the framework within which information should be reported to the Scottish Government. While offering recommendations on assessment methodology, it is not intended to restrict or constrain the exercise of good practice in the school estate asset management function within local authorities.

Note the term ‘school’ is used as a general term throughout the guidance to cover the many differing models of the ‘learning environment’ such as ‘through-schools’, ‘community campuses’, etc. which invite wider ideas of learning and is inclusive of early learning and childcare settings situated within the same buildings as primary schools. It also means, in practical terms, the buildings and the grounds contained within the site.

Timing of condition core fact reports

The Core Facts on each school are reported by local authorities to the Scottish Government annually, based on the situation at 1st April each year, for validation and publication later in the year. Local authorities are expected to maintain their condition assessment up to date in a manner which best fits their own annual reporting cycle.

Timescales for implementation

Local authorities will implement the guidance immediately as most, if not all, already hold the data required and the requirements are based on long-standing recognised best practice, much of which was already set out in the 2007 guidance.

What are the benefits?

The Core Facts collectively inform the local authorities school estates management plans and are used at both local and national level to:

  • provide consistent data,
  • assess performance and allow improvements to be focused on areas of greatest need,
  • enable the provision of safe buildings,
  • assess buildings on their suitability for supporting learning to deliver Curriculum for Excellence,
  • inform spending and investment decisions,
  • encourage best practice, and
  • measure progress in delivering the vision and aspirations of the school estate strategy.

Who is this for?

Essentially it is for the benefit of all school users and the community. Condition has a direct impact on what takes place in the school and on its image, ethos and reputation in the community.

It is also considered good practice to involve school users in the creation, use and assessment of the Core Facts. The information can also be linked to the local curriculum and the development of the learning spaces within the school as part of context-based learning.


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