Good estate management for schools

The fundamentals of good estate management

An overview of the important policies, processes and documents schools should aim to have in place.

Review each of the sections below to make sure that you:

  • have the right policies, processes and documents in place
  • can address any gaps in your organisation’s plans

You should complete the organisational self-assessment tool as you do this to establish your current position.

Who should read this section

Read this section if you have responsibility for managing the estate. This includes:

  • executive leaders
  • school business professionals
  • local authorities
  • diocesan authorities and other religious authorities and bodies

This section may also be of interest to those with accountabilities and legal duties including:

  • boards
  • charity trustees
  • trustees of schools

If you are unsure about your role in the strategic planning process, you should approach your immediate manager.

You may not have the authority to make strategic decisions. This will depend on your organisation type. If you’re:

  • a community, or community special school, you should check with your local authority
  • a voluntary controlled school, you should check with your local authority and any trustees of the school
  • an academy, you should check with your academy trust and any trustees of the school
  • a school with a religious character, you should check with the trustees of the school, diocese or relevant diocesan board
  • a foundation, voluntary aided or foundation special school you should check with the governing body and any trustees of the school

Agree an estate vision, strategy and plan

To support the strategic management of the estate you should have the following documents:

  • estate vision
  • estate strategy
  • asset management plan

As a minimum, you should have shared and agreed these documents with your board.

They need to contain the following information:

Estate vision

Your estate vision should:

  • be aligned to your educational vision
  • have a clearly defined medium to long-term vision
  • be signed off by your board

Estate strategy

Your estate strategy should:

  • explain how you will carry out the estate vision
  • cover the next 3 to 5 years
  • be signed off by your board
  • be reviewed alongside the estate vision

Asset management plan (AMP)

Your AMP should:

  • set out the actions needed to achieve the estate strategy
  • cover the short to medium term
  • be signed off by your board
  • be reviewed alongside the estate vision and strategy

Find out more about strategic estate management.

Document your processes and procedures

To support the management of the estate you should have agreed and documented the following processes and procedures. They should cover the whole of the estate.


You should have clear governance processes to support the estate. They should:

  • explain accountability for the estate at a board level and who is responsible at school level
  • support and enable strategic decision making about the estate

Review the top 10 estate checks for boards about estate management.

Budget and finance

You should have a 3 to 5 year budget plan for the estate, signed off by your board. This should include:

  • a prioritised maintenance plan
  • how you will achieve value for money through investment

Performance management of the estate

You should have an agreed approach to performance management for assets across the estate.

This should include:

  • a consistent approach to the measurement of property related performance
  • how this information will be used to improve performance

Data and data management

You should have a system that covers how data should be:

  • collected, stored and managed
  • used to inform decision making and manage performance at all levels


You should have defined and transparent procedures that include how to:

  • engage professional teams to design, price, manage and deliver property related projects
  • achieve value for money through procurement

Emergency planning

Your emergency planning should include a formal policy for responding to emergencies that affect the use of the estate.

Meet health and safety and statutory compliance requirements

The safety and security of the estate is an important part of estate management.

You should have policies and processes to support this.

Health and safety

You should have documented safety procedures that include:

  • defined and understood responsibilities for the safety and security of staff, pupils and visitors
  • accountability at board level

Statutory compliance

Your compliance procedures should include:

  • a complete understanding of your statutory compliance requirements – what you should be doing
  • an understanding of compliance across the whole estate – how you are doing against requirements
  • records to document your compliance

Find out more about safety and statutory compliance.

Maintain your estate maintenance

Well-planned maintenance will help you manage the estate and budget. This will make sure you get value for money and achieve your educational vision.

Your maintenance plan should include:

  • a prioritised programme of maintenance works based on current and costed condition data
  • who is responsible for maintaining land, buildings and equipment

Find out more about maintaining the estate.

Understand your land and buildings

You will need a variety of information to help you manage the estate effectively. You should have the relevant policies and procedures in place to collect this.

Tenure and land ownership

You’ll need a complete understanding of land ownership, rights and obligations to help you manage the estate. This includes:

  • who has a legal or controlling interest in your land and buildings
  • any implications for the use and development of the estate

Acquisitions and disposals

You’ll need a variety of information when dealing with acquisitions and disposals. This includes:

  • the process for making and seeking approval for acquisitions and disposals decisions
  • understanding tenure and land ownership implications


Understanding the condition of the estate will help you make informed decisions about the estate and develop a maintenance plan.

You should have a complete understanding of:

  • the condition of all buildings in the estate
  • the cost and priority of any works needed

Suitability and sufficiency

Understanding the estate’s suitability and sufficiency will help you make strategic decisions. You should understand if the estate meets your:

  • current educational requirements
  • future educational requirements

Find out more about land and buildings information.

Manage your energy and water usage

You should have a consistent and challenging approach to:

  • managing energy and water use
  • running energy efficient buildings

Find out more about energy and water management.

Plan and carry out estate projects

You will need to be able to plan and carry out different types of estates projects across the estate. You should have a consistent approach.

Planning and prioritisation

When planning and prioritising projects you should have:

  • transparent processes for identifying, defining, appraising and prioritising projects
  • clear responsibilities for those involved with investment and expenditure decisions

Project delivery

You should have a strong approach to project delivery, including:

  • managing contract performance
  • evaluating the outcomes of investment

Find out more about estate projects.