School buildings occasionally need replacement, rebuilding or expansion as part of the growth, improvement and modernisation of a school. Such school development projects generally involve obtaining design, architectural, planning and legal advice, and sourcing contractors to carry out the construction work itself.

This topic covers the funding of school construction projects and the seven key stages of the project management process. Information about designing school accommodation can be found in the School Design topic. Information about the safety aspects of construction work can be found in the Construction Safety topic.

Employers’ Duties

Heads and governors should:

  • produce a building development plan as part of the school improvement plan
  • identify suitable funding for any school building project
  • where required, commission professional building consultants for design and project management advice
  • ensure that a detailed project brief and outline design are produced and that contractors are properly appointed under a suitable tendering process
  • comply fully with the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
  • oversee the project to ensure that costs, timescales, safety and quality issues are managed effectively
  • ensure the safety of all users of the school site while building works continue. 

Employees’ Duties

Employees should:

  • comply with any health and safety policy the school has in place while construction works are being carried out on site
  • ensure that they and anyone on the school site are safe while the construction works are being carried out
  • report to the responsible person any dangers that they become aware of as a result of the construction works being undertaken.

In Practice

Planning School Estate Projects

All schools require continuous maintenance to ensure the safety and suitability of their built environment. Many will seek to expand or improve their premises, refurbishing and modernising buildings as required, adding extensions and new-build facilities and planning redesign projects. In some cases, they will need to demolish obsolete buildings and rebuild.

Projects must be properly planned, funded and managed.

Most projects involving a school estate will be identified and planned through an estate strategy, school development plan or asset management plan (AMP). Plans should be fully discussed and approved by those responsible for the school estate. For example, in community schools, this will be the governing body and the local authority; in academies, it will include trustees and governors, and in private schools, it will generally be the proprietor or owner.

Projects involving schools with a religious character will need the approval of the trustees of the school for any works or dealings with land and buildings.

All plans should be subject to option appraisal and reviewed for risk. Plans should always offer value for money.

All new builds and refurbishment work should comply with relevant building regulations and statutory guidance relating to premises. This includes guidance on sustainability, energy efficiency and reducing the carbon costs of buildings.

The Department for Education states that good project planning will ensure that:

  • projects reflect and support a school’s strategic objectives
  • there is consistency and transparency in the project appraisal and approval process
  • projects are prioritised to reflect strategic priorities, resource availability and educational implications
  • budget planning is informed
  • appropriate actions are taken within a structured programme to minimise delays.

Options to be considered will include:

  • cost
  • timescale
  • impact on (or disruption to) current services
  • funding sources
  • risks
  • whole life values (covering the sustainability and long-term value of property).

Schools should support good project planning by creating a written record of the processes and procedures needed to identify, appraise, prioritise and seek approval for any property-related developments. All roles and responsibilities should be agreed upon. Processes to procure professional support services should be defined.

Funding of Capital Projects

Before a school development project can be started, the school must identify sufficient funding.

Projects to improve, modernise and repair school buildings in community schools and academies are generally paid for through capital funding.

Capital funding allocations from the government in England are a mixture of devolved monies and funding based on the condition and needs of the school. A new formula for capital and estate funding was introduced in 2016. Condition Funding: Methodology for Financial Year 2021–2022: Explanatory Note for School Condition Allocations and Devolved Formula Capital, published by the DfE, provides up-to-date guidance on how the funding is calculated. Updated guidance is also set out on the DfE School Capital Funding webpage.

The guidance sets out a model of funding which consists of:

  • allocations to individual institutions through Devolved Formula Capital (DFC)
  • allocations to bodies responsible for managing capital funding through direct School Condition Allocations (SCA)
  • access to funding for academies and voluntary aided (VA) bodies not eligible to receive a School Condition Allocation, and for sixth-form colleges, via the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF).

In Scotland, local authorities have a statutory duty to ensure the adequate and efficient provision of school education in their area. This includes support for the school estate through capital funding. 

The Welsh Government operates a single capital budget and deploys capital monies on a strategic and prioritised basis. There are no allocations made on a formulaic basis. In addition, local authorities in Wales have their own general capital funds which they can use as they wish.

In Northern Ireland, the management of the school estate is the overall responsibility of the NI Department of Education in conjunction with the NI Education Authority. Responsibilities cover undertaking major capital works, minor works and routine maintenance. 

Further information about capital funding streams for school building projects can be found in the Premises Management topic.

National Estate Improvement Programmes

Across the UK there are infrastructure projects designed to update and modernise existing school buildings or to build new schools when needed.


In November 2021 the Government in England published a Construction Framework Handbook for schools. The framework, along with its comprehensive range of appendices, is intended to support both official school building programmes and any school capital projects. The framework was procured in compliance with the Public Contracts Regulations 2015 and will operate for a period of up to four years. It will be kept under review by the DfE.

DfE states that the framework is available to local authorities, schools, academies, FE colleges, universities, and other public bodies which provide educational and ancillary community facilities in England.

A range of technical annexes are included.

The Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) was a project designed to address the needs of community state-funded schools in England in most need of urgent repair. The scheme replaced the Building Schools for the Future programme which was cancelled in 2010.

Under the first phase, PSBP1, 260 schools were rebuilt and/or refurbished, 214 through capital grants and 46 using private finance. The first school was completed in April 2014. The schools in the programme were spread across the country and grouped together in batches according to geography, commercial viability and condition. Projects were completed by companies approved by the ESFA through a contractor’s framework.

Under the second phase, PSBP2, individual blocks at 277 schools were scheduled to be rebuilt and refurbished using capital grants. The ESFA plans for all PSBP2 schools to open their new or refurbished buildings by the end of 2021.

Under the scheme, 46 schools in five batches were provided private funding. This is described as the PF2 approach to private finance.

To enable as many schools as possible to benefit from available funding, the ESFA has sought to reduce the cost per square metre of new school buildings by producing a range of Baseline Designs with indicative cost and area allowances.

Further information on the practical application of baseline design guidance can be found in the School Design topic.

In April 2019 the DfE published Delivering Schools to Support Housing Growth. This provides non-statutory guidance for local authorities to plan additional educational resources to support new housing growth. Recent years have seen a number of building initiatives designed to significantly increase housing availability in certain areas. The DfE guidance includes advice for those involved in delivering new schools in new communities and best practice guidance on securing developer contributions for education from housing development more generally.

All school building work in England must comply with the School Premises (England) Regulations 2012. 


In Scotland, under the Prudential Framework arrangements, local authorities are free to make their own decisions about how much to borrow or spend on maintenance and the renewal of school buildings. They are under a duty to determine how much they can afford, and then budget accordingly.

In 2009 the Scottish Government launched the Schools for the Future national infrastructure programme. The programme is managed by the Scottish Futures Trust. The SFT works with local authorities across Scotland to improve the school estate. 

When the programme was launched it was valued at £1.25 billion and was planned to deliver 55 new or refurbished schools. This was increased to 67 through collaborative working and the value of the programme eventually increased to £1.8 billion. In April 2021, the 117th and last school in the programme was opened.

Further details of the scheme can be found on the SFT website. A list of projects can be found on the Scottish Government website. 

The programme is guided by the Scottish Government Building Better Schools Strategy.

The strategy seeks to ensure that all Scottish schools are well-designed, accessible, inclusive learning environments that inspire and drive new thinking and change and support the delivery of high-quality educational experiences. It acknowledges the need to ensure that all Scottish school buildings are of a modern, sustainable design, complying with environmental requirements and supporting climate change targets.

Innovative design to meet the challenges of the future has been encouraged through pilot projects that include a £5m Inspiring Learning Spaces scheme. Learning from the project has been published in a toolkit supported by Architecture & Design Scotland. 

Building on the success of the Schools for the Future Programme, in November 2018 the Scottish Government announced the launch of a new Learning Estate Strategy to be developed in conjunction with COSLA, the local government association for Scotland. The strategy, Connecting People, Places and Learning, was published in September 2019. It was accompanied by a £2 billion Learning Estate Investment Programme (LEIP). 

The Scottish Government has selected 37 school-building projects for the first and second phases of the programme. The first projects in the programme began construction in summer 2021 and are due to open to pupils from 2022–2023 onwards. The Scottish Futures Trust is continuing in its role as programme manager for the LEIP programme. A third phase of the programme will be considered by Scottish Ministers.

The Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010 sets out the consultation process that LAs must follow when proposing a permanent change to any of their schools, such as closure or rebuilding.


In Wales the Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme was introduced in January 2022. The programme has been developed by the Welsh Government as part of its long-term 21st Century Schools strategy for investment in schools and colleges to develop them as “hubs for learning” and to reduce the number of buildings in poor condition. The programme has been developed in partnership with local authorities.

Sustainable Communities for Learning: Business Case Guidance provides advice for those preparing a business case for SCL capital funding.

The first wave (Band A) of the Programme was delivered under the earlier 21st Century Schools and Education programme. It represented a £1.4 billion investment over the five-year period ending 2018—2019. The second wave (Band B) began in April 2019 and was expanded to include further education colleges and renamed the 21st Century Schools and Colleges Programme. In January 2022 the programme was renamed Sustainable Communities for Learning and allocated a further £2.3 billion investment in school and college infrastructure, utilising both public capital and revenue.

Further details, guidance and tools can be found on the Welsh Government’s Sustainable Communities for Learning Programme webpage.

The 21st Century Schools strategy was originally developed by the Welsh Government in 2009. Its business case confirmed that it was to be a long-term capital investment programme to improve learning environments and educational outcomes. It also aimed to enable councils to address the long-standing problem of surplus school places and create a more sustainable education estate. 

The key aim of the programme is to ensure the provision of school sites that are modern and “fit for purpose” — including upgraded ICT facilities, specialist and accessible classrooms, and outdoor learning facilities. All new schools designed under the scheme must meet the BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method) Excellent standard. This includes delivering energy-efficient buildings, enhancing habitats for wildlife, and reducing the carbon cost of construction.

Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, the School Enhancement Programme (SEP) was established in June 2012 to provide financial support for schools with “immediate and pressing” needs for capital projects which can be met through smaller scale works. The programme does not include new build solutions or major works. These are dealt with separately as part of a Major Works Programme.

The first call of the programme supported projects in over 50 schools. The second call for projects opened in January 2017 and covered a further 16 schools. 

Further details of the programme can be found on the NI Department of Education website, What is the School Enhancement Programme.

Details of approved projects can be found on the NIdirect School Enhancement Programme webpage.

Building Project Management

School buildings need regular maintenance to ensure that they stay in good condition and are safe to use throughout their lifecycle. Despite regular maintenance, some buildings as they age will occasionally need major refurbishment or modernisation. Major building works, involving demolition, replacement, rebuilding or extension, may be planned as part of the vision for school improvement and as part of the renovation of unwanted or obsolete estate.

The management of building projects will generally involve obtaining design, architectural, planning and legal advice, and sourcing contractors to carry out the construction work itself. Effective project management not only ensures that a project is completed on time and within budget, but it also ensures the safety of a project.

All construction projects are covered by the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015.

Projects where the construction phase is expected to last more than 30 working days or involve more than 500 person days must be notified to the Health and Safety Executive. All projects are also subject to building regulations and other statutory building checks and requirements.

Stage 1: Assessing Needs and Initial Planning

An effective school improvement plan should be in place, including a building development plan, and should be subject to regular assessments of need by governors. This will ensure that a school takes a long-term strategic view of its building’s use. It will also allow the school to establish what accommodation exists, what is required and how best to achieve that requirement.

The assessment of need should include checks to ensure that the number, type and size of the teaching spaces are appropriate for the pupil numbers and the curriculum, both at the time of writing the plan and in the foreseeable future.

Major influences on the plan will be the ethos and type of the school community and its perception of good educational practice.

Other factors that influence building needs include:

  • security
  • arrangements for pastoral care
  • community use
  • suitability for pupils with special educational needs
  • disabled access and facilities
  • the impact of new technologies and ways of learning 
  • energy management and environmental protection
  • the potential for expansion.

The Royal Institute of British Architects recommends the appointment of a school “project co-ordinator” who will chair a committee to draw up a building development plan. This will normally be the Head, working with a group of staff, governors and other interested parties.

An effective plan is likely to take some time to produce, especially if the school is large. Time spent at the early stages can ensure that fundamental issues are addressed and that a sound framework is in place within which to proceed.

The plan should provide a clear idea of what is needed from any project and consultants can then be employed to advise on ways that this might be achieved.

In many independent schools, the plan may well have to take into consideration rules and regulations relating to listed buildings. These can be complex and may involve the use of consultant advisors.

Stage 2: Appointing Key Personnel 

The key personnel in a school building project are defined in the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015 (CDM 2015) as:

These roles are outlined here, but fuller descriptions can be found in the Construction Safety topic.

It is strongly recommended that written records are kept of all key meetings. Meeting minutes, including action points, should be distributed.

Contractors and designers should be selected and appointed according to fair and transparent procurement processes. Procurement should comply with all legal requirements and professional advice should be obtained wherever necessary. In maintained schools, this may be available from local authority estates specialists.


The client is essentially the owner of the property or a person who has been given delegated powers by the owner. The identity of the owner will depend on the type of school. 

  • Community schools are owned by local LAs, but there is usually some form of delegation within the LA.
  • Voluntary-aided (VA) schools are usually owned by trustees, often a diocesan authority. 
  • Foundation schools are owned by the foundation. 
  • Academies are established as companies limited by guarantee with a governing body that acts as a trust. They are self-governing and most are constituted as registered charities or operated by other educational charities. 
  • Independent school owners could be trustees, shareholders or private individuals.

The client (or designated representative) will:

  • determine what work needs to be done
  • assemble a suitable project team.

The client must commit sufficient management resources to support the project from start to finish and ensure safety. This might be done through an internal project manager, where someone with sufficient capacity and skills is available, or via a consultancy arrangement.

The project is likely to be managed by:

  • the Head
  • the premises manager
  • the bursar
  • a member of the staff
  • a governor.

For larger projects, an independent project manager may be appointed for the duration of the project.

Maintained schools can often access project management expertise through their local authority.

An important role of the project manager is to act as a channel of communication. All interested parties on the client side should feed their contributions through the project manager; all appointed building professionals will be answerable to the client via the project manager.

Under CDM 2015, the client must appoint:

If they fail to do so, they must carry out the relevant duties instead.

The client must maintain and review their arrangements to ensure they remain relevant throughout the life of the project.

It must be stressed that, regardless of who is technically the client, the role of the Head is crucial to any school project. The Head has a responsibility to remain abreast of developments.

Principal designer

New building projects are subject to a number of necessary controls. It is crucial for the owner to get the best possible advice from the outset — this is just as important with a school building as with any other type of building project.

Under CDM 2015, the school or LA client should appoint a principal designer as early as possible in the project, preferably at the “concept” stage. The client should provide adequate pre-construction information to enable designs to be made that “build in” safety. 

The principal designer is responsible for the pre-construction phase and for drawing up plans and designs. They can also advise on the contracting of other designers and also have the responsibility for the coordination and preparation of a health and safety file which is required in projects involving more than one contractor.

Consultants who commonly fill this role include:

  • architects, who can provide new building designs and analyse client requirements in response to a complex brief
  • building surveyors, who will usually have the skills to handle smaller jobs where little design is involved
  • quantity surveyors, who will provide estimates to project managers, advice on VAT, preparation of specifications, bills of quantities and contracts, project cost control and management.

Contractor and principal contractor 

Contractors are the builders, engineers or other construction, maintenance or service workers appointed to carry out the project. Where more than one contractor is involved, the client must appoint a principal contractor. 

The client must make this appointment in sufficient time to allow them to carry out their duties. These include preparing a construction phase plan and liaising with the principal designer in sharing any relevant health and safety information. 

Stage 3: Agreeing to the Budget and Programme

Initial project budget

An initial project budget should be determined. This will be based on a consideration of the main elements of the project, together with available funding.

The budget should be kept under constant review throughout the project by the quantity surveyor or financial control officer with the help of the project manager.

Professional fees and insurance

Professional fees can be expensive, but it is wise to remember that the lowest fees are not always the best value for money. It is generally unwise to save on these fees by directly employing a building contractor as this may expose the school to risk. A relatively modest expenditure on professional fees can avoid potentially costly planning errors and often results in savings in other areas.

The Government considers that for a fairly major project, the total fee for all professional services (excluding VAT, planning charges and building insurance costs) should be in the order of 15% of the construction cost.

The professional bodies of all consultants require them to hold professional indemnity insurance, which provides cover in the case of professional negligence. However, clients must nonetheless ensure that consultants have cover that is appropriate for the value and type of professional duties for which they have been appointed.

LAs and dioceses may have rules with respect to the appointment of consultants and may suggest or even require the appointment of their own building professionals.

Detailed brief

A detailed brief should be developed with input from all relevant parties. It is important to establish clear lines of responsibility and communication so that the brief includes everyone who is likely to be involved. 

Specifications should include sustainability measures, including low energy use, natural daylight, solar shading, natural ventilation, water saving, recycled materials, and minimal site waste.

The detailed brief is an opportunity to consult with teaching specialists in various departments, such as IT, design technology and modern languages, over the design of specific learning spaces.

Design solution

The design team is responsible for developing the design solution and obtaining the necessary planning permissions. The client’s role at this stage is to:

  • assist in the evaluation of design strategies
  • clarify any areas of uncertainty. 

Further visits to similar projects are recommended so that all the people involved are clear about the size and potential layout of spaces.

Furniture and fittings

Furniture and fittings should be considered at this stage and a decision made as to whether or not these are to be included as part of the building contract.

Ergonomics and flexibility for the future development of the school are key considerations.

If furniture and fittings are to be part of the main building contract and therefore included in the tender documentation, the client must be prepared to make an early selection of items or to develop an outline specification at this early stage. Any special considerations can then be addressed within the cost build-ups included in tenders.

Furniture needs will have to be identified for the appropriate height and age range of pupils. Design and materials should be hard-wearing, good quality and robust.

Portable, stackable or foldable items are more flexible; fitted furniture should be kept to a minimum. Some adjustable height tables and seating will be required for pupils with disabilities or special needs. 

A variety of sizes and types of furniture may be appropriate, particularly to meet the ergonomic requirements of computer use.

An outline design

The end result will be an outline design that must be formally agreed upon by all parties. 

The outline design will include cost estimates and a programme for taking the project forward complete with estimated timescales. It should be appreciated that any changes made after this stage might cause delays and extra costs.

Stage 4: Tendering

The main element of tendering in the construction project process will usually involve the selection of the contractor or contractors who will construct the works. 

Tendering is the process by which bids are invited from interested contractors to carry out specific parts of the construction project. The process must be scrupulously fair to ensure that bias and fraud are eliminated and the best candidate for the job is apported. 

Selective tendering usually involves the invitation of tenders from a shortlist of firms chosen because they meet certain minimum standards, such as financial standing, experience, capability and competence, etc. Tender documents should be prepared which contain details of the work involved and any conditions relating to the work, such as access, working hours, temporary fencing and noise during exam time.

There are likely to be LA or diocesan procedures or standing orders with respect to tendering — these must always be checked. Following the tendering process the LA, diocese or governors, as clients will receive a report and decide to whom the contract is awarded. The contract will be between the client, represented by the project manager, and the contractor. 

After the signing of the contract and before the contractor takes over the site, ie before any work commences, it is usual to have a meeting to discuss any potential problems.

See the Procuring Goods and Services topic for more information about this stage in the process.

Stage 5: Building or Construction Phase

Good communication between the contractors, designers and the school is vital, in order to minimise disruption during the construction phase. 

According to CDM 2015, an agreed construction phase plan — setting out what will be done according to what timescale — must be in place before work commences. The plan should include the health and safety arrangements, site rules and specific measures concerning any work involving the particular risks listed in Schedule 3 of the CDM 2015.

All contractors have a duty to have regard to their own safety and that of others affected by their work. The principal contractor is also responsible for day-to-day safety arrangements and for ensuring that suitable welfare facilities, such as toilets and washrooms, are in place.

The school’s requirements for aspects such as phasing and noise limitation should be assessed throughout the building programme. This may affect the contractor’s design approach and site management.

The following should also be taken into consideration.

  • Disruption to teaching activities, lessons and exams.
  • Unforeseen circumstances that require quick decisions.
  • Changes proposed at a late stage are likely to prove expensive.
  • It is recommended that information, requests or instructions should never be given directly to the contractor by the school, but always through the lead consultant. This should avoid any contractual or cost implications.
  • Having a building site on school premises presents obvious health and safety issues. A health and safety plan covering staff, pupils and visitors, should be devised by the school to recognise potential risks.
  • A building site can be treated as a resource. Given adequate notice, contractors are usually happy to arrange occasional study visits or talks. Naturally, health and safety requirements must be observed in full, which will include safe/sensible footwear and head protection as a minimum.
  • In preparation for the completion of the building, the school should ensure that cleaning arrangements are in place and that the new building will be adequately insured.

More information about the construction phase, including safety and welfare arrangements, can be found in the Construction Safety in School Grounds topic. 

Stage 6: Completion

On completion, the new building is formally handed over. Sometimes this is done in stages as different sections are completed, which should have previously been agreed in the contract. 

Arrangements will need to be made to ensure that the school has safe access to the completed areas while the contractor remains on site. Partial handovers can nullify some contracts so it is wise to check that, in accepting part of the new facility, the school’s position on warranties and programme is not affected.

The school becomes responsible for the building once it has been handed over. Then all fitting out, equipping and familiarisation can begin. In a large and complex building, this can be a time-consuming process.

There will be a contractual period for making good any defects that arise in the period immediately after handover.

The health and safety file — which is required under CDM 2015 wherever more than one contractor is involved in a project — must be handed to the client at the end of the project. This ensures that, at the end of the project, the school has the information that will allow anyone carrying out subsequent construction work on the buildings to plan and carry out the work safely.

Stage 7: After the Project

It is good practice for the school to systematically monitor how the new building performs and to compare this with the project aims. This should involve all users and could form part of a general evaluation of the project. 

A formal post-occupancy evaluation by members of staff is not mandatory but recommended in order to ensure that staff are able to contribute to any defect schedules so that nothing is overlooked.

New Building Records

New building records should include the following. Schools will have to fill the gaps in any existing documentation.

  • New plant warranty information.
  • Operation and maintenance guides:
    • specific plant items (manufacturers’ literature)
    • installed system operation (eg starting and stopping)
    • installed system maintenance (operational and maintenance advice on the services system as a whole, eg water treatment, ductwork and cleanliness).
  • “As built” records.
  • Plant performance data:
    • design parameters (the basic design parameters used to calculate systems layout and performance, eg summer and winter design conditions, internal gains and population)
    • derived design parameters (the calculated performance needed from the services system in order to achieve the design condition, eg the supply air volume and temperature at each supply point)
    • as commissioned performance (the measured performance of the services system, such as the supply air volume and temperature at each supply point).
  • Insurance and statute requirements:
    • mechanical records (the regular inspections/tests performed on a services component or system in response to statute or insurer, eg pressure vessels/systems)
    • electrical records (the regular inspections/tests performed on a services component or system in response to statute or insurer, eg fire detection/alarm system tests).
  • Consumables:
    • manufacturers’ and suppliers’ addresses and phone numbers
    • schedules of recommended stocked spare parts for main plant components
    • schedule of special lubricants for main plant components
    • schedules of other replacement parts, such as air filters, replacement seals, bulbs and fuses.
  • Hazard procedures:
    • full instructions on safe procedures, should any plant component present a safety risk when maintenance access is necessary
    • permits to work and/or hot works permits (these should automatically apply where a risk exists or disruption of building user function may occur).
  • Mechanical services:
    • location, testing and commissioning data
    • test certificates (where appropriate)
    • equipment type, model, serial number and the manufacturer.

“As built” records 

“As built” records contain detailed drawings of the premises, including those originally supplied by the builders. They should also include records of adequate signage and labelling on all plant items that could pose a risk to authorised and unauthorised personnel.

They must be updated every time a system element is changed (eg a new branch water supply).

Where possible drawings should include:

  • a block plan showing the relationship of the premises to the surroundings
  • a site plan showing details of the building or buildings and their services
  • general arrangement plans of every floor and the roof
  • elevations and sections
  • a foundation plan
  • structural plans and sections, including details of permissible floor loadings
  • structural details
  • construction details of external wall elements and roofs, including insulation materials.

Working with Contractors

Construction work, including major refurbishment or extensions, will almost always be carried out by contractors. A contractor can be any business that is involved in construction, alteration, maintenance or demolition work and can involve building, civil engineering, mechanical, electrical, demolition and maintenance companies, partnerships and the self-employed.

There are several considerations when selecting contractors, one of which is economic. For all construction work, there is a duty on the client to appoint competent contractors and so health and safety has to be a part of any employer’s considerations.

Under the Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015, there is a duty on the client to provide the contractor with suitable pre-construction information. This information must include all the information in the client’s possession (or is reasonably obtainable), including:

  • any information about, or affecting, the site or the construction work
  • any information concerning the proposed use of the structure as a workplace
  • the minimum amount of time before the construction phase which will be allowed to the contractors for planning and preparation for the construction work
  • any information in the existing health and safety file.

Skills Certificate Schemes

It is important that contractors working on a school site are who they say they are and have the necessary skills and training.

Many modern training schemes are linked to certification schemes whereby workers can provide proof of their identity, skills and qualifications by producing a certification scheme card. These make it easier for site managers and contractors to comply with CDM 2015 and check that workers have completed sufficient training. Such cards are often referred to as “safety passports”.

School clients may wish to require that all contractors on site have a card and carry it with them as identification.

The most common card scheme in the UK is the Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS).

The CSCS scheme is operated as a partnership between the Construction Industry Training Board (CITB) and the Construction Industry Council (CIC). Nearly two million people hold cards issued under the CSCS scheme. The smartcards are colour-coded to reflect the owners’ profession and bear their picture as well as a chip that contains information about their training and qualifications.

Principle contractors are advised to guard against fraudulent cards and employ workers who do not have the skills they say they have. They can check cards using an online CITB card checker.

List of Relevant Legislation

  • Well-Being of Future Generation (Wales) Act 2015
  • Equality Act 2010 
  • Schools (Consultation) (Scotland) Act 2010
  • School Standards and Framework Act 1998
  • Construction (Design and Management) Regulations 2015
  • School Premises (England) Regulations 2012
  • Building Regulations 2010
  • Work at Height (Amendment) Regulations 2007
  • Education (School Premises) Regulations 1999

Further Information


DfE and ESFA Publications

Department for Education and Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) publications are available from the GOV.UK website.

Building Bulletins

The Building Bulletins series has been published over a number of years by the government to provide specialist technical guidance for building and refurbishment projects relating to the school estate. Some bulletins have been withdrawn. Others do not represent current policy but are still available for reference and may contain useful and relevant information. Some have been updated and republished. Most are available on the GOV.UK website. 

  • BB80: Science Accommodation in Secondary Schools: A Design Guide
  • BB81: Design and Technology Accommodation in Schools: A Design Guide
  • BB93: Acoustic Design of Schools: Performance Standards (2015) 
  • BB100: Design for Fire Safety in Schools (2007) 
  • BB101: Guidelines on Ventilation, Thermal Comfort and Indoor Air Quality in Schools (2018) 
  • BB102: Designing for Disabled Children and Children with Special Educational Needs: Guidance for Mainstream and Special Schools
  • BB103: Area Guidelines for Mainstream Schools(June 2014) 
  • BB104: Area Guidelines for SEND and Alternative Provision (December 2015) 

Other Publications


  • British Standards Institution (BSI)

    The BSI develops, publishes and offers independent certification services for the UK, the EU and international standards. It aims to share knowledge and best practice in fire safety through the numerous national and international standards it publishes.

  • Building Research Establishment (BRE)

    The BRE provides consultancy, testing and commissioned research services covering all aspects of the built environment and associated industries.

  • Chartered Association of Building Engineers (CABE)

    CABE is the professional body for those specialising in the technology of buildings. The aim of CABE is to share knowledge, raise standards and develop professionals, supporting the construction to create better, safer and more sustainable buildings.

  • Construction Industry Training Board (CITB)

    CITB is the industry training board for the construction sector in England, Scotland, and Wales. Sponsored by the Department for Education, the key role of the CITB is to help the construction industry attract talent and to support skills development.

  • Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS)

    CSCS is a not-for-profit limited company which runs the leading skills certification scheme within the UK construction industry. CSCS can be contacted by phone on 0344 994 4777.

  • Department for Education (DfE)

    The Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for education, including early years, schools, higher and further education policy, apprenticeships and wider skills in England.

  • Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) 

    The ESFA is responsible for the direct funding of academies, free schools and all 16–19 provision and distributes school funding resources to local authorities to be passed on to non-academy schools.

  • Institute of Workplace and Facilities Management (IWFM)

    The IWFM is the principal membership body for workplace and facilities management professionals. Formed in 2018 from a rebranding of the British Institute of Facilities Management (BIFM), the IWFM offers a wide range of member services and has developed a Professional Standards Framework in collaboration with the facilities management industry. 

  • Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

    The RIBA champions better buildings, communities and the environment through architecture and its members.

  • Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)

    A professional institution for surveyors in the built environment and property assets sectors. The RICS Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) provides essential cost and price information to the construction and maintenance industry.

  • Scottish Futures Trust

    The SFT works with the Scottish Government to design and deliver major infrastructure projects, including the improvement of the education estate in Scotland. 

  • The Trust Network

    The Trust Network is a group of academy trusts that share information and expertise on managing and maintaining school premises.