Building data: assessing the estate

School work

4 December 2018

The Condition Data Collection is assessing the state of the English educational estate, and Vince Jubb reports on its progress

If you have any contact with the education sector, you will no doubt have heard of the Condition Data Collection (CDC) programme. The CDC, led by the Department for Education, is gathering data on the condition of buildings for all state-funded schools in England, excluding independent specialist providers, special post-16 institutions and further education colleges.

It is one of the biggest condition data collection exercises undertaken in the UK public sector and at peak times, between 800 and 1,100 schools are being visited each month. By the end of the programme, we will have seen around 22,000 schools and collected data on the condition of around 70,000 buildings, covering more than 60 million m2 of floor space.

The CDC programme started in spring 2017 and will conclude in autumn 2019. In carrying it out, we are working with four surveying organisations – Aecom, Capita, Faithful+Gould, and Rider Levett Bucknall – as well as design consultancy Arcadis, and IT supplier KyKloud.

Rolling review

In 2011, Sebastian James’ Review of Education Capital recommended independent condition surveys on a rolling 20 per cent sample of the school estate, repeating this to develop a full picture of its condition over five years and thereafter.

The Property Data Survey (PDS) assessed the building condition of much of the school estate in England between 2012 and 2014, and was then succeeded by the CDC programme. The programme is providing a high-level, non-invasive assessment of schools so that we can identify how building condition is changing over time, and it is also helping us evaluate the impact of policy interventions.

We are investing more than £23bn in school buildings between 2016 and 2021. The data collected is providing information on the condition of school buildings, which will inform the way we target future capital investment.

Programme improvements

Based on feedback from the PDS and from early CDC pilot visits, we have sought to improve the methodology and delivery of the programme. The pilot study involved engaging with key stakeholders, including schools, responsible bodies and industry representatives from RICS.

In particular we have:

  • improved the robustness and consistency of grade allocations and data recording for roofs and other critical elements;
  • improved the approach to collecting data on parts of buildings that are difficult to access, such as drainage elements and mechanical and electrical services;
  • given greater consideration to local knowledge about buildings and condition to help provide context for surveyors as they collect data;
  • expanded the school data collected to include some on context and compliance, covering, for instance, flood risk and statutory designations that may constrain future uses of the site;
  • made data available to schools and responsible bodies on a rolling basis once it has been quality-assured, rather than waiting until the end of the programme;
  • improved the IT platform supporting the collation of data on site; and
  • increased key stakeholders’ general awareness of the CDC programme.

Responsible reporting

We are now more than halfway into the CDC programme, and surveying organisations have visited more than 12,000 schools in England to collect the required data. We are working closely with these organisations and Arcadis to ensure the quality of the school data sets.

We have provided 2,800 condition reports to schools and responsible bodies, and will be releasing more in the coming months for schools that have already had a CDC visit and for which data has been quality-assured.

We are also collecting feedback from schools, responsible bodies and other key stakeholders on their experience of the CDC programme and the content of the condition reports, which we are using to improve our work.

If you have been involved in the programme and would like to share your views or want to know more about it, please do get in touch.

Vince Jubb is Communications and Stakeholder Management Lead, Condition Data Collection Programme, Education and Skills Funding Agency

Further information