This week’s announcement that all schools in England will either have to convert to Academy status by 2020 or be committed to converting by 2022 has put academies into the spotlight again. Schools currently under local authority control potentially face increased costs as economies of scale available via the authority disappear.
6 out of 10 academies are forecasted to be running a deficit in the next two years placing continual pressures and challenges on school leaders and managers to maximise efficiency and cost savings. Collaborative working has a valuable role in meeting these challenges. Collaboration takes many forms such as Multi-Academy Trusts, federations, clusters or simply an informal working arrangement between schools. This blog for convenience refers to multi-academy trusts although the principles apply to any grouping of schools / academies.
- Opportunities to get access to services on a shared cost basis enabling schools to take advantage of services previously inaccessible or too expensive to utilise.
- Income streams to schools offering these services. Typically, these are shared teaching, financial or administrative services.
Saving costs in Asset and Maintenance management
Asset and maintenance management collaboration offers several benefits:
- Potential cost savings by pooling capital works through larger contracts.
- Simpler project management and less costs by working with one contractor rather than several across a network of schools.
- Co-ordinating routine maintenance activities. For example, identifying that several schools require re-painting or refurbishment offers the opportunity to co-ordinate work into higher value contracts. This may secure larger discounts than can be achieved individually.
- Prioritisation of resources based on need e.g. assessing capital maintenance funding needs and the later allocation of these funds within a multi-academy trust or cluster.
A holistic view of a multi-academy trust’s asset and maintenance requirements is essential to support the above.
Delivering holistic multi-academy maintenance
Bursars and school business managers need to co-ordinate asset and maintenance management requirements.
One approach is to introduce a single maintenance system across the multi-academy trust. However, this may not be appropriate if systems are already in place given the investment a school or academy will have spent already.
An alternative is to integrate disparate
asset and maintenance data from these systems. This federated approach enables individual schools to continue to use their preferred systems while benefiting by pooling certain data.
Either approach ideally requires a system which can:
- Offer a maintenance capability on its own merits for those academies that wish to use it; and / or
- Collate data from other systems to act as a central analytics and reporting portal.
Systems such as Altuity’s AltoSites™ include their own maintenance capability and uses REST API’s to provide connectivity to other systems. Summary information such as planned capital works programmes and maintenance activities could then be shared. Pooled data could also be used for Key Performance Indicators highlighting different issues that maybe facing a MAT’s academies.
Information can be compared very easily using analytics and dashboards. Two example reports are illustrated below.
The benefits of collaborative working extend into asset and maintenance management processes. This is achievable via a single cross-academy maintenance solution in a multi-academy trust, federation or cluster or alternatively via a federated approach. This delivers a holistic view of the group’s needs and priorities.
Such capabilities are essential given the ever increasing financial challenges within the education sector.
This blog is an extract from our eBook – click the title to download it – ‘Reducing School Capital and Maintenance Costs‘
To assess how your multi-academy trust, federation or cluster can benefit in terms of collaborative asset and maintenance management please contact us.