Maintenance and improvement
While trustees own the buildings, it is for the governing body to ensure that they are well maintained and improved, where and when necessary. The principles are the same for all schools:
- Schools must be safe places for staff and pupils to work in and for parents and others to visit.
- Maintenance delayed creates larger bills later.
- All work should be undertaken within the framework created by the asset management plan (AMP) for the school.
- A qualified architect or surveyor should supervise major repair work and all improvements; usually this person or organisation will develop a long-term working relationship with the governing body. If volunteers are used to carry out some of the tasks, their work should be supervised by someone who is professionally competent and care should be taken to ensure that the work is completed to the highest possible standard.
- When an outside contractor is employed to undertake work on a school building, the firm should be competent to do the work and carry appropriate insurance.
In one of the points above reference was made to the AMP. The Local Authority will have produced an AMP for all the school buildings in its area. The governors of each school need to use this basic information to produce their own building development plan for their school. This plan will identify a schedule for recurring maintenance, such as external redecoration, and an outline of how the school buildings might be developed to ensure that they provide the best possible environment in which to educate the pupils and in which staff can work. The Local Authority AMP covers issues of the building's state of repair, its ability to accommodate the number of pupils now on roll or expected in the future and the suitability of the teaching and other facilities for their task. The building development plan for the school should reflect the same priorities. The existence of a Local Authority AMP is designed to ensure that Government grants are targeted to those schools in greatest need.
All schools need to carry a range of insurance cover. Most of this is provided or arranged through Local Authorities. Schools need to be satisfied that they have a clear understanding of what insurance the Local Authority provides. Governors of voluntary aided schools are advised to have their own insurance for the buildings for which they have responsibility. During periods when major building work is being undertaken in the school, additional cover will be necessary. Governors of all church schools must ensure that they have, or know that the Local Authority has on their behalf, a public liability policy related essentially to access the public may have, whether authorized, unofficial, casual or even unlawful, to the school premises. Governors of voluntary aided and foundation schools have additional responsibilities as employers of staff. They must have, or know that the Local Authority has on their behalf, employers' liability insurance. They are also advised to have, or know that the Local Authority has on their behalf, legal expenses insurance so that they can be properly supported in law over anything that might arise. Insurance for schools is an area of rapid change and development. Before making any changes to their policies, governors or the head should discuss the issues with their diocese and Local Authority.
Extracted from Governing and Managing Church Schools ; An Introductory Guide (2nd edition, 2003, The National Society), with amendments
At the Diocesan level we have produced flowcharts that describe the stages in the capital expenditure process as they affect our Church Voluntary Aided Schools; these are listed on the Capital expenditure page.