How FM providers can support schools and academies during times of change and budget restrictions

Matt Morrell, Head of Facilities Management at Pinnacle Group explores how FM providers can manage the tight budgetary constraints of the educational sector and unravel the complexities of schools converting into academies.

Following a budget cut from central government of £2.7bn since 2015, and with funding in real terms set to decrease in the next year, schools are currently under a huge amount of financial pressure. It is under these conditions that schools need to determine what can be sacrificed to maintain an operational and productive environment – in most cases they scrutinise the provision of the institution’s FM.

The value of Total FM services, such as building maintenance, security and waste management, which are integral to the success of any school and academy, continues to be under review. In response, the FM industry needs to demonstrate it can work efficiently and, in times of constraints, deliver more for less.

In Public Private Partnerships (PPP), benchmarking has become the norm. Over the past two years, the benchmarking process has become increasingly rigorous, with independent data now a requirement in PPPs, rather than just comparison against providers on other contracts. It is now more common for clients to risk market testing services and rotating or replacing their FM providers to ensure they are receiving value for money and the most efficient and cost-effective service.

"Since FM became recognised as an industry in the 1980s, it has been built on strong relationships between the clients and their providers"

While this can be a challenge for many smaller and mid-sized FM providers who are not in a position to utilise technology as effectively as some of the larger, more resourceful organisations, it is not insurmountable. Demonstrating a business ambition to develop strong, long-term relationships and the ability to operate flexibly can go a long way to ensuring a cost-effective, efficient and collaborative partnership, beyond technological innovation.

Since FM became recognised as an industry in the 1980s, it has been built on strong relationships between the clients and their providers, who work towards common goals to ensure buildings and workplaces are operational.

In education PPPs, FM providers will form one part of a trilateral relationship with the school and the local authority (LA), or academy, and the special purpose vehicle (SPV). Adopting a collaborative and flexible approach to their client relationship and contract, they work to will facilitate discussion and agreement about working practices and cost.

Rather than reinforcing a position of ‘supplier’ to the educational sector – though unfortunately so many relationships still do take this format – it is important for FM providers to demonstrate to the LAs and SPVs that long-term partnerships lead to the best educational outcomes. When FM providers are seen as partners and consulted with as early as possible in any process, they are more able to focus on the ultimate objective of all stakeholders: the needs of the pupils.

The role of the FM provider is even more integral when supporting the school-to-academy conversion process.

Since January 2018, 35 per cent of English state-funded schools have been academies, a strategy the government has taken to help education evolve and meet the demands of teachers, pupils and parents.

Navigating the complexities of the contract for a school converted to an academy poses an extra challenge to FM providers who have to demonstrate skills in translating contracts, managing the expectations of all parties and ensuring flexibility in delivery. Many contracts are over 600 pages long and more than 10 years old, and are often taken on by people who have no prior experience in this field or the field of PPPs and Private Finance Initiatives (PFIs). On acquiring the school and its operations, many academy owners, reasonably, want to implement change in the educational and operational model.

Often, academy business managers want to develop the site to accommodate an increased number of pupils or incorporate new curriculum changes. However, the terms of the PPP contract often make that desire commercially complex and difficult to realise.

At the heart of such a situation, flexibility is key. It is the role of an FM provider to inform the academy business manager of the formal process as dictated by the contract and seek alternatives by giving suggestions as how to best utilise the current space, thereby increasing pupil numbers or allowing flexible teaching spaces where possible. Both parties would be aware of, and want to avoid, the alternative: a Deed of Variation needing to be drawn up for multiple lawyers and banks to approve, leading to a significant, and unavoidable, expense in legal and administrative fees.

Some of the common challenges facing FM providers in the educational sector relate to building use and the length of time buildings are used for. Schools and academies will often try to increase their income generation by extending the scope of their facilities and offering them to the public for use. However, existing pre- and after-school clubs and sports or swimming lessons could make new income-generating measures difficult to achieve. In that case, the FM provider needs to address this and find flexible ways for the organisation to achieve its goal.

The educational sector is under increasing pressure to maintain standards at lower costs. With such responsibility for operations, it is no surprise that FM providers are asked to do the same. But, with a commitment to strong relationships, a flexible approach and the ability to understand the contractual landscape, it is possible for FM providers to navigate these challenges. Our role should be to work as a partner and add to the overall strategic conversation about how operations are delivered.

This article was originally featured in Tomorrow's FM magazine.

Relationships flexibility and an eye for detail

How FM providers can support schools and academies during times of change and budget restrictions

Matt Morrell, Head of Facilities Management at Pinnacle Group explores how FM providers can manage the tight budgetary constraints of the educational sector and unravel the complexities of schools converting into academies.

Following a budget cut from central government of £2.7bn since
2015, and with funding in real terms set to decrease in the next year, schools
are currently under a huge amount of financial pressure. It is under these
conditions that schools need to determine what can be sacrificed to maintain an
operational and productive environment – in most cases they scrutinise the
provision of the institution’s FM.

The value of Total FM services, such as building maintenance,
security and waste management, which are integral to the success of any school
and academy, continues to be under review. In response, the FM industry needs
to demonstrate it can work efficiently and, in times of constraints, deliver
more for less.

In Public Private Partnerships (PPP), benchmarking has
become the norm. Over the past two years, the benchmarking process has become
increasingly rigorous, with independent data now a requirement in PPPs, rather
than just comparison against providers on other contracts. It is now more
common for clients to risk market testing services and rotating or replacing
their FM providers to ensure they are receiving value for money and the most
efficient and cost-effective service.

"Since FM became recognised as an industry in the 1980s, it has been built on strong relationships between the clients and their providers"

While this can be a challenge for many smaller and mid-sized
FM providers who are not in a position to utilise technology as effectively as
some of the larger, more resourceful organisations, it is not insurmountable.
Demonstrating a business ambition to develop strong, long-term relationships and
the ability to operate flexibly can go a long way to ensuring a cost-effective,
efficient and collaborative partnership, beyond technological innovation.

Since FM became recognised as an industry in the 1980s, it
has been built on strong relationships between the clients and their providers,
who work towards common goals to ensure buildings and workplaces are
operational.

In education PPPs, FM providers will form one part of a
trilateral relationship with the school and the local authority (LA), or
academy, and the special purpose vehicle (SPV). Adopting a collaborative and
flexible approach to their client relationship and contract, they work to will
facilitate discussion and agreement about working practices and cost.

Rather than reinforcing a position of ‘supplier’ to the
educational sector – though unfortunately so many relationships still do take
this format – it is important for FM providers to demonstrate to the LAs and
SPVs that long-term partnerships lead to the best educational outcomes. When FM
providers are seen as partners and consulted with as early as possible in any
process, they are more able to focus on the ultimate objective of all
stakeholders: the needs of the pupils.

The role of the FM provider is even more integral when
supporting the school-to-academy conversion process.

Since January 2018, 35 per cent of English state-funded
schools have been academies, a strategy the government has taken to help education
evolve and meet the demands of teachers, pupils and parents.

Navigating the complexities of the contract for a school
converted to an academy poses an extra challenge to FM providers who have to
demonstrate skills in translating contracts, managing the expectations of all
parties and ensuring flexibility in delivery. Many contracts are over 600 pages
long and more than 10 years old, and are often taken on by people who have no
prior experience in this field or the field of PPPs and Private Finance
Initiatives (PFIs). On acquiring the school and its operations, many academy
owners, reasonably, want to implement change in the educational and operational
model.

Often, academy business managers want to develop the site to
accommodate an increased number of pupils or incorporate new curriculum changes.
However, the terms of the PPP contract often make that desire commercially
complex and difficult to realise.

At the heart of such a situation, flexibility is key. It is
the role of an FM provider to inform the academy business manager of the formal
process as dictated by the contract and seek alternatives by giving suggestions
as how to best utilise the current space, thereby increasing pupil numbers or
allowing flexible teaching spaces where possible. Both parties would be aware
of, and want to avoid, the alternative: a Deed of Variation needing to be drawn
up for multiple lawyers and banks to approve, leading to a significant, and unavoidable,
expense in legal and administrative fees.

Some of the common challenges facing FM providers in the
educational sector relate to building use and the length of time buildings are
used for. Schools and academies will often try to increase their income
generation by extending the scope of their facilities and offering them to the public
for use. However, existing pre- and after-school clubs and sports or swimming
lessons could make new income-generating measures difficult to achieve. In that
case, the FM provider needs to address this and find flexible ways for the
organisation to achieve its goal.

The educational sector is under increasing pressure to
maintain standards at lower costs. With such responsibility for operations, it
is no surprise that FM providers are asked to do the same. But, with a
commitment to strong relationships, a flexible approach and the ability to
understand the contractual landscape, it is possible for FM providers to
navigate these challenges. Our role should be to work as a partner and add to
the overall strategic conversation about how operations are delivered.

This article was originally featured in Tomorrow's FM magazine.

Pinnacle Win Best Operational Project at Partnership Awards

Pinnacle Group’s team in Leeds have been awarded Best Operational Project at the Partnership Awards for the ‘Leeds Ten’ schools project. The Gold Award was presented at the Annual Partnership Awards hosted at the London Hilton, Park Lane on Thursday 9th May 2019.

The awards, now in their 21st year, are designed to celebrate outstanding achievements in public-private partnerships and are open to all projects and organisations across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Serving largely socially deprived areas in Leeds, the 10 schools demonstrate what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together. Pinnacle and our partners, HCP and QED, were commended on our close working relationship and the added social value brought to the schools and their wider communities.

The 10 schools demonstrate what can be achieved when the public and private sectors work together

Our 100+ members of delivery staff serving 4,000 pupils have worked hard to bring added social value to the forefront of our service. This has included donating goods – as well as spare time – to help improve children’s wellbeing and learning experiences, as well as supporting the wider community directly and through local organisations. Recent initiatives have included Christmas donation appeals, sponsored sports tournaments and the ‘Give Your Time’ appeal in which Pinnacle staff members pledge their time and expertise to support community organisations.

The partnership has also focussed on a number of sustainability improvements to the buildings themselves, improving environmental standards through measures such as rainwater harvesting and installing LED lighting, as well as ensuring these measures help improve the contract’s value for money.

An excellent illustration of how an operational PPP project can deliver benefits to not only the schools but also the wider community

Neil Fergus, Managing Director of Facilities Management said: "We are very proud of the performance of our Leeds team, so it’s fantastic that they have received this award (in conjunction with our partners HCP and QED). The team are tremendously dedicated to delivering great services to our customers, but it’s the added value that they bring to the schools and the wider community that really stands out. That commitment to social value is now a core component of the everyday service in Leeds and their achievements are remarkable”.

The Partnership Awards judging panel said: “The judges considered this project to be an exemplar PPP both in terms of its core operations and its wider social engagement, backed up with strong evidence and testimonials. They welcomed the scheme as an excellent illustration of how an operational PPP project can deliver benefits to not only the schools but also the wider community”.

This latest award follows a host of other commendations Pinnacle has won since the contract began in 2009. We self-deliver a comprehensive Total Facilities Management service which, incorporating cleaning, catering, caretaking, grounds maintenance and M&E maintenance, while also overseeing major and lifecycle works.

Pinnacle announce grounds maintenance contract win with Wandle

Following a competitive process, Wandle has awarded Pinnacle a contract to deliver soft facilities management to over 9,000 homes across nine southern London Boroughs.

From late November 2018, Pinnacle has been delivering ground maintenance and arboricultural services across south London.

“We are delighted to have won this contract and we look forward to working with Wandle and its residents. We pride ourselves on providing excellent services to our customers by putting residents at the heart of what we do. During the course of this contract we have committed to a number of social value initiatives as work experience places and employment opportunities.”

Neil Fergus, Pinnacle’s Director of Facilities Management

Lorraine Joseph, Estate Services Manager said: “Looking after our grounds is import to us ensuring that our residents can enjoy the communities that they live in, so were thrilled to be working with Pinnacle in making our grounds maintenance service fantastic for our residents.”

The contract is for an initial five-year period, with a possible years extension.

Pinnacle PSG announce the start of a new facilities management contract

Following a competitive process, Aldwyck Housing Group has awarded Pinnacle PSG, part of Pinnacle Group, a contract to deliver soft facilities management to over 6,500 properties.

From July 2018, Pinnacle PSG has been delivering cleaning and window cleaning across Aldwyck’s properties in Hertsmere, St Albans and Broxbourne. Then from October 2018, Pinnacle PSG will also deliver grounds maintenance across the same regions.

All vehicles will be fitted with water tanks and 65w power inverters in order to charge battery operated machinery.

“The upgrades made to our equipment allows us to fulfil this work efficiently and target new partners to work with. We are delighted to have won this contract and we look forward to working with Aldwyck Housing Group and its residents.”

Neil Fergus, Pinnacle PSG Director of Facilities Management

Aldywck Housing Group Head of Housing Tony Campbell said: “This is an exciting time. We’re really looking forward to working with Pinnacle and starting this new chapter in how we provide customer service.

We’re confident that through our new contract appointments our customers will experience an improved service and greater value for money. We’re also encouraging our customers to be involved in the monitoring of the contract, giving them more of a say and ensuring issues can be resolved more promptly.”

The contract is for an initial five years, with an option to extend for a further five.

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