2019 to 2020 Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) Guidance Published

ESFA CIF Guidance Announcement.jpg

The ESFA has this week published its guide for Academy Trusts and their professional advisers who are planning to submit a Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) application.

Below is a summary of the key points. To read the guidance in full, please click here.

Key Dates

09.00 29th Nov 2018 - Portal help line opens
17.00 30th Nov 2018 - Deadline to register
12.00 13th Dec 2018 - Deadline for submissions
Easter 2019 - Outcome announcement

The Purpose of CIF

The purpose of CIF is to enable eligible academies and sixth-form colleges to apply for capital funding to keep their buildings safe and in good working order, as well as support expansion projects.

Parents and pupils’ decisions as to which school to attend are naturally influenced by Ofsted ratings, but also whether the condition of the school estate is conducive to learning.

Weighted Scores

In recent years CIF applications have been oversubscribed four times over and so it is very important to make sure bids are submitted in accordance with the guidelines provided by the ESFA.

This year CIF bids will be scored with the following weighting applied.

60% - Need
25% - Vale for Money
15% - Planning

The ESFA’s Hierarchy of Need (60%)

The ESFA guidance includes a hierarchy of need, with the highest priority being given to Academy Trusts addressing areas such as statutory compliance, asbestos, fire safety, safeguarding and other situations where the health and safety of pupils, teachers and parents are potentially threatened.


  • Fire safety

  • Gas and electric safety

  • Asbestos

  • Legionella

  • Security and safeguarding

  • Hot and cold water supply and drainage


  • Building structure

  • Roofs

  • Windows

  • Mechanical ventilation and electrical systems

Value for Money (25%)

This year the value for money element of the bid submissions has increased to 25%.

It is clear that the ESFA is seeking financial contributions from academies, whether from their own reserves or through other loan options such as Salix* or the Public Works Loan Board. Whilst this is not compulsory, marks will be awarded where contributions are offered.

Academy Trusts and their boards will need to carefully calculate the level of contribution they can afford, as failing to make a contribution is highly likely to affect the overall score and may be the difference between award and non-award.

Planning and Estate Strategy (15%)

Good Estate Management for Schools (GEMS) is cited in reference to the planning element of the CIF application.

GEMS encourages trusts to adopt a longer term, strategic approach to estate management and it is clear that the ESFA now wants any bid to demonstrate how the proposed CIF project fits in to its overall estate development plan and is not simply an ad hoc speculative submission.

Where an Academy Trust can show evidence that the CIF application forms part of a strategy and especially one that is linked to the Trust’s education vision, they are more likely to score highly.

The Importance of an up to date Condition Survey

The ESFA have made explicit, that the Condition Data Collection Programme (CDCP), currently half way through its 22,000 school surveys, is not a condition survey and does not capture in sufficient detail, the evidence required to support a CIF bid.

Academy Trusts must ensure they have an up to date condition survey and one that has captured the condition of their key fabric and components and graded them in the sector standard. A-D for Condition and 1-4 for Priority.

The guidance notes make it very clear that any fabric or key component that has a life cycle beyond 2 years is very unlikely to be funded this time around.

Any academy considering a CIF submission will need to make sure they have sufficient condition survey reports, assessments and other supporting evidence to underwrite any bid. Where they do not, they will need to commission them with some haste.

If you are an Academy Trust who is considering a CIF application and would like advice and support in preparing a successful bid please contact Surveyors to Education on 01530 276127 or email enquire@s2e.org.uk.

*Salix Energy Efficiency Loans provide funding for schools and academies to reduce their energy costs through the installation of energy efficient technologies.