Management of the schools' estate - overview
Management of the schools' estate is the overall responsibility of the Department of Education (DE) in conjunction with the five Education and Library Boards and can involve the undertaking of (i) major capital works; (ii) minor capital works; and (iii) maintenance.
The Department is directly responsible for overseeing planning and grant-aiding capital works in schools in the Voluntary Maintained, Voluntary Grammar, Irish Medium and Grant Maintained Integrated (GMI) sectors. the Education and Library Boards (ELBs) have responsibility for capital works in the Controlled Sector.
Grant-aid for capital works in schools, for which the Department is responsible is paid directly to school authorities by the Department. However, as the ELBs are responsible for Controlled schools, the Department allocates funding for these schools to the ELBs.
Grant rates for funding can also vary across different school sectors, however, the vast majority of schools in the Province now receive 100 percent funding for capital works (see grant rates for schools).
A major work is a capital project that costs in excess of £500,000 and the following are examples of what a major capital project might constitute
- Construction of a new school building (either to meet an unmet demand for child places or to replace an existing school building of sub-standard accommodation)
- Construction of a new school building to facilitate the rationalisation/amalgamation of two or more schools,or
- Extension and/or refurbishment of existing school buildings.
Each year a programme of major capital works to be undertaken is normally announced by the Department. This is the Capital New Starts Programme.
Schools are required to meet a certain criteria to be eligible to compete for inclusions in this Programme(see Capital Programme - Process of Determining Allocations). Those schools that meet the criteria are included in a Contenders' List, which is normally compiled on an annual basis and it is from this list that schools are selected for funding.
As the cost of the eligible projects usually exceeds the resources available, funding is directed at those schools that are considered the highest priority based on educational need.
There are a number of procurement routes by which a major capital project can be taken forward. These currently are
(ii) Design and Build
(iii) Public Private Partnerships (PPP)
A consultation document was published in 2005, which set out recommendations for new procurement and delivery arrangements for the schools' estate. The Department is currently considering these recommendations.
A minor work is a capital project that costs less than £500,000 (including VAT) and the following are examples of what a minor capital project might constitute
- Refurbishment of existing accommodation (for example toilets, classrooms and administration facilities)
- Health and Safety works, to comply with current legislation
- Security works (for example provision of closed circuit television (CCTV) and security fencing)
- Removal and replacement of temporary accommodation
- Disabled access works (for example the provision of ramps, lifts and disabled toilets)
Minor works are prioritised according to greatest need, for example, roofs over heads, health and safety and disabled facilities.
Maintenance of schools in the Controlled, Voluntary Maintained and Irish Medium sectors is the responsibility of the Education and Library Boards (ELBs) and the Department allocates maintenance budgets to the ELBs for this purpose.
Maintenance of schools in the Voluntary Grammar and Grant Maintained Integrated (GMI) sectors is the direct responsibility of the schools themselves, with the cost for this being met from within the schools' existing recurrent budget.