The Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) can provide important funds to improve the condition of school and academy buildings, but only around a third of applications are accepted each year. Here’s how to prepare a winning application.
The CIF guidance from the Department for Education highlights how your application should not only effectively convey the challenges your school is encountering to someone who can’t see it for themselves, but also explicitly outline the impact poor buildings are having on teaching and learning.
Understand the funding criteria
Before diving into your application, take the time to thoroughly understand the priorities and criteria set by the funding organisation. Tailor your proposal to align with these expectations to increase your chances of success.
Clearly define your objectives
Begin your application by clearly defining the objectives of your project. What specific conditions are you targeting, and how will your project address them? Be specific, measurable, and concise in articulating your goals.
Develop a detailed project plan
Present a comprehensive project plan that outlines the steps you'll take to achieve your objectives. Break down the project into phases, include timelines, and specify milestones. A well-organised plan demonstrates your commitment and feasibility.
Include evidence and support
Include any evidence you can, including photographs to help assessors understand your bid and make sure they show the full extent of the condition. Any surveys that are included must be independent and must have taken place within the last three years.
Consider all options
When writing your application, consider all solutions without bias and try not to present a preferred option. Be sure to quantify the alternatives and show the costs and differences in your options. Be sure to add in a ‘do nothing’ option and prove what the negative impact would be to demonstrate the urgent need.
Sustainability is key
Address the sustainability of your improvements. Outline plans for ongoing maintenance, community involvement, or partnerships that will ensure the longevity of the positive changes your project brings.
Acknowledge and mitigate risks
Acknowledge potential risks associated with your project and detail how you plan to mitigate them. This shows assessors that you've thought critically about potential challenges and have a plan in place to address them.
Outline the cost in detail
Provide a transparent and detailed budget that aligns with your project plan. Clearly justify each expense and ensure that your budget reflects the scope and impact of your proposed improvements.
Follow submission guidelines
Finally, ensure that you follow the submission guidelines meticulously. Submit all required documents and adhere to deadlines. Failure to do so could jeopardise your chances, regardless of the strength of your proposal.
Remember that the key is to make a compelling case for why your project deserves funding and how it will bring about positive change.
Good luck with your application!
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