• Sectors: Education

The Department for Education’s School Condition Survey and Condition Data Collection Programme

United Kingdom - United Kingdom - In 2017, Arcadis was appointed as the Technical Services Manager for The Department for Education’s (DfE) Condition Data Collection (CDC) programme, which was developed to collect data about the physical condition of every government-maintained school building in England. Conducted between 2017 and Autumn 2019, the DfE condition survey data provided a robust and reliable evidence base on school condition to help the DfE in targeting future investment where it is most needed, ensuring more than 8 million children can learn in the best possible environment and achieve their full potential.

Biggest

survey programme in Europe

12 weeks

mobilisation

Why was the DfE Condition Survey conducted?

The 3-year CDC programme encompassed data collection on the physical condition of more than 22,000 schools across the country. Based on the results, it will see the Government investing a significant £23 billion between 2016 and 2021, including £4 billion to fund condition improvement and maintenance in schools between 2015 and 2018.

The Role of Arcadis

As Technical Services Manager, Arcadis was responsible for mobilising the biggest school condition survey in Europe in just 12 weeks. This included providing programme management, undertaking quality assurance, developing investment models, providing technical leadership, maintaining technical standards and monitoring performance of delivery across the four appointed surveying organisations, all whilst working in very close collaboration with the DfE.

The role itself was uniquely defined for the DfE condition survey and a departure from the way in which the predecessor programme operated. As such, it presented an untested model which had to be newly devised and implemented without precedent. Our approach included establishing a multi-faceted Programme Management Office (PMO), supported by expert technical knowledge and a deep understanding of education sector needs. The PMO established an integrated, experienced and expert capability able to respond to the unique and complex challenges of a programme of this scale and complexity.

A key achievement was the speed at which the programme was set-up. In less than three months, we had created the operational structure, initially trained over 200 surveyors and engineers to start the programme, conducted a pilot survey exercise and launched the IT application that would support data capture, analysis and reporting.

At its peak, the programme was surveying more than 1,100 schools per month, with a team of more than 520 surveyors and engineers having been trained to undertake school condition survey site visits.

The response from schools and the positive engagement from other important stakeholder bodies was seen as a key measure of the programme’s success. Over 1,400 schools formally responded, 89% of which provided a positive-neutral rating.

The programme was heralded as a critical success for the DfE, having been delivered on-time, on-budget and to a high quality in terms of the essential data output. For the DfE, it helps to ensure that every pound of funding counts, as the school condition survey has provided a robust evidence base on school condition to inform the targeting of future investment to where it is needed most.

It is seen as an exemplar in terms of the collaborative ethos that characterised the programme.

“The CDC programme was uniquely suited to the integrated skills, experience and education sector expertise Arcadis is able to offer. We developed an agile and responsive approach to the specific challenges that faced us on such a large, complex and untested programme, working closely with the DfE to develop the collaborative ethos that came to characterise our approach and which was seen as fundamental to the success of the programme.”  - Phil Beswick, Arcadis (CDC Programme Director)

“The CDC was a Big Data programme that used forward-thinking technology as an integral part of its design. From iPads on site to analytic and investment modelling and live access for stakeholders, we helped the client to harness data not only to understand, but also to positively influence, important decisions in policy making.” - Steve Dixon, Arcadis

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Outcomes

Biggest

survey programme in Europe

12 weeks

mobilisation

22,000

schools surveyed

Questions about this project

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