If your academy applied for the 2019/20 round of Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) funding, you will have just received notification of the outcome of your submission. The ESFA allocates funding on a priority basis, placing most importance on tackling poor building condition, building compliance, energy efficiency or health and safety. CIF funding is notoriously oversubscribed, meaning many will be left disappointed by the results, and perhaps even considering an appeal.
Your first action should be to review the feedback provided by the ESFA on the CIF portal. The portal will show each submission’s overall score against the four scoring categories – outputs, project planning, cost and/or process – alongside the minimum threshold required for approval. This will help you to calculate whether an appeal is worthwhile, and highlight which areas your submission was stronger or weaker in.
It is essential to understand that CIF submissions can only be appealed if the applicant can demonstrate that the ESFA has made a material error in their assessment, for example not taking into account parts of the bid. No new information or evidence will be considered, only the original documents. This criteria will only fit a minority of unsuccessful applicants, meaning most won’t be suitable for appeal.
However, just because you can’t appeal your CIF application does not mean your project is ineligible for future bidding rounds. Instead, you may require a more considered and extensive bid proposal, with stronger supporting material.
You now have time to prepare for action for next year’s funding application process, which gives you a significant advantage. To ensure your next bid has sufficient evidential material to support it, consider a strategic condition survey of your school buildings or a carefully considered development plan. This strategy will provide more robust data for next year’s submission, including real-world figures and accurate costings, which will maximise your chance of success. The importance of realistic cost evidence was demonstrated in the ESFA’s decision to increase the weighting of the cost element from 15% to 25% in this year’s assessment strategy.
If your CIF bid has been unsuccessful, now is the time to evaluate your strategy. The most compelling bids are clear, concise and well evidenced, laying out your academy’s urgent needs with supporting facts and figures.
AHR is already looking toward the 2020/21 CIF bidding round and welcome the opportunity to help academies kickstart their approach and secure more funding next year.
If you would like to work with a professional consultant with CIF experience, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can assist you with putting your bid together free of charge and have helped many academies to do so.