Schools property compliance, repairs and maintenance

Guidance for schools

Roles and responsibilities

This page is to provide clarity on which individuals and organisational elements/bodies have specific responsibilities for the management of statutory compliance, repairs and maintenance, and health and safety within the school estate.

References

Information provided has been referenced to:

Who is accountable for health and safety and compliance within schools?

Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA) overall accountability for health and safety lies with the employer of the members of staff in the school. However day-to-day running of the school including responsibility for the health and safety of staff and pupils is delegated to the head teacher and school management team.

Below clearly sets out which schools are covered by which employers.

  • The Local Authority (Oxfordshire County Council) is the employer for community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled schools and maintained nursery schools. 
  • The Governing Body is the employer for foundation schools, foundation special schools and voluntary aided schools.
  • The Governing body or Proprieter is the employer for independent schools. 
  • The Academy Trust is the employer for academies and free schools.

The need for effective school property maintenance and compliance

All schools require effective arrangements in place in order to manage the condition of their premises. The persons or organisation with responsibility for the maintenance of the school buildings should:

  • Maintain school buildings and services so that they are safe, warm, weather tight and provide a suitable environment for learning.
  • Deal with emergencies promptly, safely and effectively.
  • Have plans in place to manage both premises and assets.
  • Manage and procure maintenance works effectively.

To keep the estate in a safe condition, the accountable body/ person(s) should:

  • clearly define and designate responsibilities for health and safety issues
  • identify all property related health and safety issues
  • Take appropriate actions to minimise any avoidable risks
  • monitor risks and issues

Funding of repair and maintenance at schools

Under the Scheme for Financing School all schools and academies are responsible for all repairs and maintenance.

This includes general building repairs and maintenance and statutory compliance work such as asbestos remedial work, water hygiene risk assessment (every 2 years), fixed wire testing, annual lift inspection and servicing, LEV testing, testing and swimming pool water quality testing.  Fire risk assessment (annual), pressure vessels, annual service AND Zurich insurance thorough examination via OCC Insurance Team.

Schools should ensure that they have a full knowledge and understanding of their building, its condition and the associated statutory and maintenance requirements and will be expected to use the delegated funding to meet these. If it is discovered that a major piece of work e.g. a roof replacement needs to be undertaken earlier than would normally be expected because of a lack of regular maintenance and repair, the council reserves the right to charge the school a proportionate contribution to the cost of replacement. Similarly if work is required from a health and safety perspective and the school has failed to arrange this, the council will undertake the work and charge the school’s delegated budget, as provided for in the Scheme for Financing Schools.

As part of the school’s budget setting process the Education Finance Service (EFS) can help identify funds for a Repair & Maintenance specific contingency within the school budget. It is also important to note that the Scheme for Financing Schools offers maintained schools the opportunity to request a loan to finance this type of work. For further help or guidance on budget construction or loans to schools please contact your EFS Adviser directly. 

The local authority continues to receive some capital funding in respect of maintained schools (Schools Structural Maintenance Grant), which is limited and is prioritised according to sites with greatest need. Schools should be aware if they have any capital work scheduled in this programme. This capital funding will reduce as more schools convert to academy status. Single academy trusts, small multi-academy trusts and VA schools are able to make a bid to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for capital funding from the Condition Improvement Fund.

Further information

Self-financed building and improvement work and alterations

Application for the approval of self-financed building improvement and alterations (SFA form) should be completed using this form and guidance notes:

CDM Regulations – undertaking construction work

CDM regulations places explicit responsibilities on the Client.  In many cases the school is the client.  The client must be named and must appoint a Principle Designer and Principal Contractor if there is more than one contractor.  The Client has a number of legal duties that they must perform.  All construction work must have a written Construction Phase Safety Plan.  Further information can be found in the CDM Procedure.

Premises Management Folder

All schools have been issued with a Premises Management Folder which contains further guidance on property compliance and can be used to store key information.

Further guidance can be found in the Health and safety toolkit

This includes associated policies and procedures for (not exhaustive):

 

Asbestos

Boiler & Plant Rooms

Cleaning

Contractors   

Electrical

Fire

Gas

Glazing

   Legionella

   LEV

   Oil

   Pest Control

   Pressure Systems

   Scalding

   Security

   Vehicle Management

Useful contacts:

For general property advice: FMservicedesk@oxfordshire.gov.uk

For advice on leases and ownership: estates.team@oxfordshire.gov.uk

For self finance approvals: nick.tomkins@oxfordshire.gov.uk

For health and safety advice: healthandsafetyhelp@oxfordshire.gov.uk