• There may be a flurry of action (or panic!) as the announcement of this year’s bidding round brings CIF into urgent focus, with the deadline for submissions of 13th December less than 2 months away!

    To maximise your chance of being successful, it is essential to take action now. Those who have already begun to prepare have an advantage, but it’s not too late to get started.

    If you’re already familiar with the CIF process, you know that it is essential to gather necessary data to support your bid – and this involves knowing the condition of your school buildings in a high level of detail. Bids which are supported by research, perhaps from a condition survey and development plan, are more likely to be successful.

    As in previous years, the highest priority will be given to projects that tackle poor building condition, building compliance, energy efficiency or health and safety. This will focus on:

    1. Compliance and safety issues (fire protection systems, gas or electrical safety etc)
    2. Projects that ensure weather-tight buildings
    3. Delivering continuous heating and water supply

    However, there are two new features for CIF this year:

    • Projects should satisfy the performance requirements of Output Specification 2017 (OS) to ensure that they are of an appropriate quality
    • The assessment criteria will further increase the weighting towards cost and overall value for money

    The other fundamental criteria remain the same: trusts with five academies or more and over 3000 pupils cannot apply. Academies or 6th form colleges that opened as of 1st September 2018 can apply, as well as schools with a signed academy order as of the same date.

    There remain 3 categories for bids:
    • Condition
    • Condition with expansion
    • Expansion

    By far the majority will be for condition only. Only a very small proportion of CIF will be allocated for expansion projects, and then only across high-performing academies and colleges. So, CIF bids for these projects will need to be very well justified and evidenced.

    As in previous years, your academy can apply for up to 2 projects. These will be assessed separately and independently from each other. The minimum and maximum project thresholds this year have also remained the same:

    Project thresholds according to school type

    Minimum project threshold

    Maximum project threshold

    Primary and special schools




    Secondary, all-through and sixth-form colleges



    In terms of preparing your bid, a new guidance document Good Estate Management for Schools is very helpful, and replaces Essential School Maintenance - a guide for schools.

    Regardless of whether you already have a condition survey for all your school buildings (which should be an essential part of your bid), since time is now tight, the most important action for you now is to drill down into the detail of the specific problem, and acquire accurate costings.

    Don’t delay any further in getting to grips with the problem. CIF is heavily oversubscribed but by starting today you can maximise your chances of success.

    If you are new to CIF, or simply want help with your bid, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. We can walk you through whether a project is likely to be successful and help you put together a bid free of charge.
    Allan Hunt
    24 OCTOBER 18
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Unlike many practices, AHR has over 175 years working across a majority of sectors. This long and rich history offers our clients extensive experience in almost all building types and an insight to address their specific needs.




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