School estates: condition reporting core facts

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

2 Scope of Condition Core Fact Reporting

Gross internal floor area in conditions A to D

There is a requirement to report the gross internal floor area (GIFA) of the school along with the condition rating. Similarly, where the school comprises more than one building or block there is a requirement to report the GIFA and the condition rating for each of the buildings or blocks. The results from the building or block surveys are consolidated and reported on the overall area in each of the condition ratings A to D of the buildings or blocks along with the overall condition rating for the school

The condition rating for the school is based on the following criteria:

A: Good - Performing well and operating effectively (physical element carries out function totally as new including consideration of the transverse elements[3])

B: Satisfactory - Performing adequately but showing minor deterioration (physical element carries out function satisfactorily, may show signs of age and including consideration of some transverse elements)

C: Poor - Showing major defects and/or not operating adequately (physical element does not carry out function effectively without continuous repair, shows signs of age and does not consider most of the transverse elements)

D: Bad - Economic life expired and/or risk of failure

School types

Condition Core Fact data should be provided for all primary, secondary and additional support needs (ASN) schools, all of which should be treated identically in terms of assessment method and criteria.

Where early learning and childcare settings are on the same site as a primary, secondary or ASN school these should be included and treated as part of the school.

Leased, owned, rented, PPP, NPD or DBFM

Condition Core Facts reported to the Scottish Government should include all school buildings and facilities that are temporary or permanent, owned, leased or rented by the local authority. PPP schools, Non-Profit Distributing (NPD) schools and Design, Build, Finance and Maintain (DBFM) schools should also be reported.

Shared facilities

When assessing the condition Core Fact, all parts of the school used for education should be considered, whether they are used for other purposes as well. In particular:

  • school sports facilities that are available for local community use out-with school hours should be wholly included,
  • any space within the school exclusively dedicated to, and managed by, those who provide community services, including dental, medical, police, or social work should be excluded,
  • any part of the school used to provide accommodation for another local authority service or any other non-school related purpose on a permanent basis should be excluded.

On a shared campus, where facilities are used by more than one school, the effect of those facilities on overall condition ratings should be shared between the schools concerned on an equitable basis to be decided upon and recorded by the local authority.

Where facilities primarily for the use of others are used by the schools, e.g. where the school has access to leisure centre facilities, then these facilities should be excluded from the condition Core Fact.

Staff houses and residential accommodation for pupils

Staff houses and accommodation for pupils should be excluded from the condition rating reported to the Scottish Government. Although this is excluded from the scope, authorities are still encouraged to adopt this practice for the management of the properties.

Definition of blocks

The school properties and in particular the older ones tend to comprise several blocks on one site. Generally, a block equates to a building however, in certain circumstances it will be helpful to sub-divide a building into a number of blocks. For example, where a building has a number of wings or where extensions have been added to the original building, it may assist to differentiate the different forms of construction and condition by identifying the extensions and the original building as separate blocks.

The general reasons for carrying out separate condition assessments for individual blocks are to allow consideration of:

  • the varying ages of the blocks,
  • the diverse methods of construction,
  • the differing deterioration profiles of the materials used,
  • to identify the range of condition ratings across blocks on the site, and
  • to provide greater transparency of the data.

A typical example is a Victorian school with extensions from 1920’s, 1950’s, 1970’s along with ‘light-weight construction’ stand-alone blocks from 1980/90’s. It will be the responsibility of the authorities to identify the blocks and this will normally be carried out by the asset manager or building surveyor.

Scope of overall condition rating

The condition rating to be reported to the Scottish Government should include the elements referred to in Section 3, under Listing of School Elements. The list comprises two parts: physical elements and transverse elements. The physical elements are those parts of the school fabric that should be taken into account when assessing condition. They encompass all aspects of the school fabric rather than simply the school buildings, and include playgrounds, external structures and services, security facilities and playing fields. Everything within the curtilage of the school should be included in the overall rating of each school’s condition, unless specifically excluded by this document. The transverse elements comprise those aspects that need to be taken into account when assessing the condition of each applicable physical element. They are functional rather than physical in nature, and include information extracted from the various safety and other reports provided by professional technical staff, who will also act on reports from others as appropriate, along with nationally identified property issues.

Where building work is currently, or has been, in progress on playing fields, and it is intended that these be reinstated, they may be excluded from the overall rating: it is unreasonable that planned improvement work of this nature should reduce a school’s condition rating.

Condition versus Suitability

One potential source of confusion when assessing the condition rating for a school is the distinction between condition and suitability. In reporting the condition and suitability Core Facts, the following distinction in scope should be drawn between the two:

  • Compliance with the design intent should be addressed under condition. Hence, condition deals with the state of repair of features or facilities that exist as part of the school fabric (and as part of its current design).
  • Where the current design or design intent has been rendered inadequate or inappropriate by new requirements that maybe applied retrospectively, then this should be dealt with under condition. These requirements could arise as a consequence of regulatory or central government guidance (see legislation and regulations below). This aspect of condition should include the general health and safety requirement to reduce the risk to pupils, staff and the general public to a level which is as low as reasonably practicable.
  • Discrimination requirements under the Equality Act and inclusion measures should be dealt with under suitability.
  • Where it is considered that the design or design intent was already inadequate or inappropriate when viewed against legislation, regulations or regulatory or central government guidance existing and applicable at the time of installation, then this should be dealt with under condition. For example, the adequate provision of sanitary accommodation for pupils in accordance with the School Premises (General Requirements and Standards) (Scotland) Regulations (see transition elements).
  • Matters of security of the school fabric, contents and occupants should be addressed under condition.

Aside from the above considerations, the adequacy of design or design intent, including the absence of any particular feature or facility, should be addressed under suitability. It should be noted that the way in which the buildings and facilities are used or operated (or indeed misused or mis-operated) is not part of condition. If a design regarded as unsuitable necessitates the use of the school facilities in a way that is out-with the design intent, then this is a matter for consideration under suitability e.g. the use of a practical teaching space as a general classroom.

Legislation and regulations

Building Standards are intended to apply to new building work or conversions and do not routinely apply retrospectively to existing buildings under building standards legislation, they may be referred to as a benchmark when assessing risk under health and safety or fire safety legislation. For example, a fire risk assessment under Part 3 of the Fire (Scotland) Act 2005 and associated regulations may determine that additional fire safety measures are incorporated into an existing building in line with current building standards.

The consequence of the introduction of new or amended standards and guidance which are not statutory is that an existing building may not comply with current standards. It is then for the authority as duty holder to determine what mitigation measures, if any, are necessary to reduce the risks to an acceptable level.


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