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Making Best Use of Your Existing Primary & Secondary School Estate

Mainstream School Sufficiency Assessment


Over the last 7 years there has been a huge
increase in the number of primary aged pupils,
which has placed significant pressure on the
existing estates. Over this period over
600,000 new places have been constructed
and the pressure is forecast to impact
dramatically on the secondary estate over the
coming years.

Since 2000, the DfE's statutory Net Capacity
Assessment (NCA) has provided a mechanism
to establish the capacity within mainstream
schools. Unfortunately, the NCA is a basic tool
and is often used primarily as a vehicle to
manage pupil numbers entering each school
year rather than identifying potential capacity.


1st Planner have developed a sophisticated
process by which the capacity of a school is
assessed by utilising the current Building
Bulletin (BB103) to identify shortfalls and
surplus areas against the room types that are


The information presented is extremely visual
adevelopment plans to be produced and Client
Briefing Plans to be created.


The School Sufficiency Assessments unlock
huge levels of value for our Clients and ensure
that the best use is made of existing assets.

Prior to commencing the sufficiency reviews, data requirements, reporting formats and the programmes for the work are agreed.


Sample documents are completed to ensure that standards are agreed with the Client and a benchmark established prior to the main body of the work being completed.


The School Sufficiency Assessment can be completed either as 'desktop' or 'on-site'. The desktop exercises are reliant on utilising the information provided by the Client and are significantly cheaper than the on-site alternative whereby 1st Planner staff visit the sites to check all the base information issued, update CAD plans and confirm room types and uses.


1st Planner have utilised a process called "heat-mapping" where we are able to automatically communicate different information across a site with colour, such as room type and use.


The Internal and External area types detailed in BB103 are calculated and compared against the number of mainstream and SEND pupils for both Number on Roll and Planned Admission Number.


The information is presented in graphical format for the number of spaces and overall area as well as being shown in a table for each room type.


If there is an excess in space against the current PAN a calculation is completed to demonstrate a 'potential' number of additional pupils that the school could facilitate.


If there is a shortfall in space a high level cost is provided for the corresponding new build area against the EFA's new build rate per m². We also calculate high level costings for the remodelling of spaces that are not in accordance with BB103 for the PAN.

Case Study
Birmingham City Council
Detailed sufficiency review of whole estate consisting of:
  • 95 Nursery Schools
  • 301 Primary Schools
  • 82 Secondary Schools
This exercise has been completed over a 3 year period and has allowed for a transformation in the way that additional places have been delivered across the Authority and the way in which capital funding allocated by the DfE has been utilised.
Outcomes & Achievements
  • We now understand the whole school estate.

  • Increased use of existing space from 14% to 70%

  • Capital Savings of £34m

  • Revenue savings of £2.2m

  • 100% of Client Technical Adviser costs capitalised.

Client Testimonial

“Birmingham City Council’s relationship with 1st Planner has developed over the last four years. Initially the commission was to support with Construction Planning and Project Controls in order to realise efficiencies on school expansion projects leading to a full lean review of the capital programme. However, 1st Planner’s analytical approach identified further opportunity within the existing estate which has enabled us to develop processes and tools that allow for considerable savings to be made against the capital budgets available. Through establishing an extremely detailed understanding of the estate and pupil demand upon it, together we have been able to realise value that was previously perceived not to exist. 1st Planner have also been fundamental with the development and implementation of a process that has allowed for a considerable proportion of the Education Infrastructure Department’s revenue costs to be capitalised against the savings that have been made, therefore supporting with the ongoing viability of the team.”


(Jaswinder Didially - Head of Education Infrastructure - Birmingham City Council)

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