Education Estates Conference 2022 – a review from the panel, by Tim Warneford

It is no secret that my favourite conference of the season is the Education Estates one, held annually in Manchester. This year James, Kathleen, Rebecca and the team celebrated their 10th anniversary.

It was a genuine honour to be invited on to the advisory panel to vote on which presentations would be afforded a platform and which of 14 categories nominated categories for awards would be crowned.

Whilst I always appreciated how diverse the presentations were, covering schools, colleges and universities, it was only from the vantage point of being on the panel, that the scope and depth of the disciplines really came home.

This year I further had the pleasure of chairing on the Estates and Facilities stage as we explored the journey to achieving Good Estate Management for Schools. The calibre of the speakers was formidable, with Lindsay Harris, DfE and Andrew Dutton, Arcadis doing a double act, presenting on the methodology of data collection and how this is used to quantify and qualify planning and programming of investment.

Will Attlee of LocatED, encouraged delegates to look beyond the everyday and consider exploring ways in which un-used school estate land could be deployed to generate much needed income. I posed the question of whether we had the opportunity to create the virtuous circle that would provide wins for the LA, trust and DfE.

Finally, Trevor Payne, Director of Estates at the University of Birmingham, built further on the use of data sources and showcased what returns from investment can be secured by indulging us in a utopian insight for estate managers everywhere.

Fortunately, there was not another presentation following ours as we overran due to the number of questions from a truly engaged audience.

Naturally, given the backdrop of political uncertainty, there were a number of trust CEOs and CFOs seeking answers or further clarity on the current position of funding streams and capital programmes.

One of which, being the School Rebuilding Programme (SRP). Jane Balderstone and Luke Kennedy provided an update on the SRP and this afforded me and one of my own CEO clients to ask them questions and seek feedback on where the application was. Having been successful with a Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) bid in the summer of 2022, the trust have not been able to progress with this project until they learn of the outcome of their SRP submission.

We learned that the ESFA are unlikely to be in a position to announce the latest tranche of successful schools before the CIF deadline of December 7th and thus this has an impact on whether we prepare a phase 2 bid for the school, when we have not even commenced phase 1.

It is always a fascinating event which provides delegates, exhibitors and all attendees with the opportunity to come together and discuss the current challenges and best practice solutions that this niche sector constantly throws up. Until next time.

Tim Warneford


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