Post-Election: early engagement pays dividends in the fierce competition for Condition Improvement Fund awards.

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It was a honour to join the great and good at the TES academies event held in the Library at the Birdcage in Westminster on Tuesday, July 2nd. Bridget Phillipson, the new Secretary of State for Education, was otherwise engaged on the hustings but her special advisor, professor Sir Kevan Collins, deputised admirably.

(Main image above: left to right – Stephen Morales, CEO ISBl, Professor Sir Kevan Collins and Benedicte Yue Vincent, CFO River Learning Trust)

The new Labour administration will be inheriting a significant number of challenges affecting the education sector, from teacher pay and retention to all manner of built environment issues, not least a £15 billion condition need chasm and an eye watering estimated cost of £50 billion to decarbonise the school estate.

It is with this landscape in mind that Warneford Consulting urges any school considering submitting a Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) bid in December, to engage with their chosen CIF consultant as a matter of some urgency and ideally commence carrying out the necessary surveys during the summer holiday, in order beat the rush ahead of the autumn term.

The competition for surveying resources required from over 2,000 schools that annually submit bids, places additional stresses on the consultants and their supply chain partners to undertake surveys and produce reports in support of submissions.

It is always best to be ahead of the pell-mell scramble and to use the time saved to determine project costs, school contributions and consultation over the contents of the bids.

The past two years have seen the number of CIF awarded projects reach record lows of the ten-year funding stream and one further implication is that the DfE are holding back some projects awarded in principle until they have undertaken a further level of due diligence and assured themselves that schools have themselves checked the procurement process meets standards applied within the published guidance.

Only the very best prepared bids are likely to be awarded and Warneford Consulting advise that applications written under pressure are never as robust as those afforded the time and care needed to prepare award winning submissions.

If you feel you would benefit from any advice on preparing and submitting CIF bids, please contact me on