Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS)

In April this year, the Education Skills & Funding Agency, published their guide for Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS)

This article is a digestible version and sets to provide best practice guidance for Academies on; Estate Management policies and procedures, Strategic Asset management, Health and Safety, Compliance and Maintenance.

GEMS seeks to ensure that Trusts have appropriate plans in place so that:

• Land and buildings support their educational objectives

• Health and Safety and statutory/insurance compliance responsibilities are met

• Capital Investment and maintenance plans are prioritised effectively for the short, medium and long term

The guidance sets out 4 key steps as follows:


Trusts are encouraged to define their educational vision for their Estate, including how the estate will evolve to provide for local demand and to support any educational specialism that the school wishes to develop.


Having defined the vision, a strategic review and SWOT analysis of the existing assets and estate management arrangements should help the trust assess priorities so that resources and budgets are appropriately aligned. A series of surveys, audits, assessments and studies are key to development of the strategy.

The following elements should be considered:

• Existing capacity vs current and future demand for school spaces

• Condition and Compliance of the estate currently and over next 5 years

• Suitability and sufficiency of facilities to support educational objectives (i.e. specialist sports, science, drama etc)

• Opportunities for estate development and the options open to the school

• Feasibility of the various options, considering; adaptability of the existing estate to provide for future needs and ambitions, costs, budgets, funding and inward investment potential


Following the comprehensive Estate analysis and assessment, Trusts should then set out how the strategy will be practicably achieved over a defined period of time. Two key plans support this, detailing and prioritising the actions required to deliver the estate strategy, as follows:

1. Asset Management Plan – to include:

• Current condition and performance of the estate, and;

• Assessment of future condition and performance

• Response arrangements for unplanned urgent works

• Policies and procedures (i.e. leasing or hiring of premises, disposals and acquisitions, reporting of maintenance issues, approvals for capital expenditure and procuring technical advice)

• Programme of Preventative Planned Maintenance to minimise maintenance and running costs

• Programme of estate wide built asset activities, co-ordinated, sequenced and grouped where possible to realise efficiencies and minimise impact on school operations

2. Estate Development Plan – to include:

• A visual plan and a single, structured programme of all work identified within the Asset Management Plan, detailing how the whole estate will be developed over a set period of time.

• Planning of major investment (construction) and maintenance projects ensuring they are phased, co-ordinated and sequenced to minimise impact on everyday school operations.


By grouping complimentary work packages, the trust can attract best market rates and savings through economies of scale. Where appropriate, use of tested best value procurement routes such as framework agreements or consortia procurement can also be utilised to achieve optimum return on investment.


Wherever you are on your journey, I can offer a complete range of services, supporting you on the road to Good Estate Management for your Schools.


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