Property and Compliance Responsibilities in Schools

Revised July 2021

Property and Compliance Responsibilities in Schools




This document provides clarity on which individuals and organisational elements/bodies have specific responsibilities for the management of statutory compliance, repairs and maintenance, and health and safety within the school estate.



Information provided has been referenced to:



Who is accountable for health and safety and compliance within schools?


Under the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 (HASAWA) overall accountability for health and safety lies with the employer of the members of staff in the school. However day-to-day running of the school including responsibility for the health and safety of staff and pupils is delegated to the head teacher and school management team.


Below clearly sets out which schools are covered by which employers:


  • The Local Authority (Oxfordshire County Council) is the employer for community schools, community special schools, voluntary controlled schools and maintained nursery schools. 


  • The Governing Body is the employer for foundation schools, foundation special schools and voluntary aided schools.


  • The Governing body or Proprietor is the employer for independent schools. 


  • The Academy Trust is the employer for academies and free schools.






Corporate Responsibilities of Property Investment and Facilities Management (PIFM)


To ensure Oxfordshire County Council meets its statutory responsibilities PIFM focus on the strategic development of school buildings by providing advice to schools and act as the first point of contact in the Directorates for building and site related issues.


PIFM’s central responsibilities include:


  • production and review of the asset management data
  • strategic review and development of the school buildings estate
  • bids for capital funding
  • delivery of the approved capital building programme
  • property compliance and assurance through strategic policies and procedures including school’s estate, including high risk areas:   
    • Fire
    • Legionella
    • Asbestos


PIFM’s responsibilities to schools include guidance and support on:


  • Devolved Formula Capital grant (DFC)
  • Asset Management and related building development issues
  • Emergency or safety critical building related issues
  • Advice relating to the condition of a building i.e. condition surveys and lifecycle maintenance requirements
  • Approvals for self-financed projects.
  • Provision of specific guidance and management systems e.g. premises folder, asbestos database etc.
  • Asbestos reinspection’s (CAR reg 4)


The division of responsibility between the LA and school is set out in the Scheme for Financing Schools. Within this framework, priorities for the centrally managed Corporate Capital Programme include:


  • urgent work that will prevent immediate closure of premises and/or address an immediate high risk to the health and safety of occupants and remedy a serious breach of legislation


  • essential work that will prevent serious deterioration of the fabric or services and/or address a medium risk to the health and safety of occupants and/or remedy a less serious breach of legislation


As a general guide, the Council will only consider such projects for inclusion in the Corporate Capital Programme if the estimated cost exceeds £10,000.






Responsibilities of Schools for property maintenance and compliance


The school Governing Board is responsible for all other premises related costs:


  • minor capital schemes and works that fall below the £10k threshold
  • all statutory servicing and testing – see APPENDIX 1
  • general maintenance and responsive repairs


All schools require effective arrangements in place in order to manage the condition of their premises. The persons or organisation with responsibility for the maintenance of the school buildings should:


  • Maintain school buildings and services so that they are safe, warm, weather tight and provide a suitable environment for learning.
  • Deal with emergencies promptly, safely and effectively.
  • Have plans in place to manage both premises and assets.
  • Manage and procure maintenance works effectively this includes day-to-day repairs, cyclical maintenance, servicing and testing of equipment.


To keep the estate in a safe condition, the accountable body/ person(s) should:


  • clearly define and designate responsibilities for health and safety issues
  • identify all property related health and safety issues
  • Take appropriate actions to minimise any avoidable risks
  • monitor risks and issues



Funding of repair and maintenance at schools


Under the Scheme for Financing School all schools and academies are responsible for all repairs and maintenance.


This includes general building repairs and maintenance and statutory compliance work such as asbestos remedial work, water hygiene risk assessment (every 2 years), fixed wire testing, annual lift inspection and servicing, LEV testing, testing and swimming pool water quality testing.  Fire risk assessment (annual), pressure vessels, annual service AND Zurich insurance thorough examination via OCC Insurance Team.


Schools should ensure that they have a full knowledge and understanding of their building, its condition and the associated statutory and maintenance requirements and will be expected to use the delegated funding to meet these. If it is discovered that a major piece of work e.g. a roof replacement needs to be undertaken earlier than would normally be expected because of a lack of regular maintenance and repair, the council reserves the right to charge the school a proportionate contribution to the cost of replacement. Similarly if work is required from a health and safety perspective and the school has failed to arrange this, the council will undertake the work and charge the school’s delegated budget, as provided for in the Scheme for Financing Schools.


As part of the school’s budget setting process the Education Finance Service (EFS) can help identify funds for a Repair & Maintenance specific contingency within the school budget. It is also important to note that the Scheme for Financing Schools offers maintained schools the opportunity to request a loan to finance this type of work. For further help or guidance on budget construction or loans to schools please contact your EFS Adviser directly. 


The local authority continues to receive some capital funding in respect of maintained schools (Schools Structural Maintenance Grant), which is limited and is prioritised according to sites with greatest need. Schools should be aware if they have any capital work scheduled in this programme. This capital funding will reduce as more schools convert to academy status. Single academy trusts, small multi-academy trusts and VA schools are able to make a bid to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) for capital funding from the Condition Improvement Fund.


Further information


Self-financed building and improvement work and alterations

PIFM will manage applications for the approval of self-financed building improvement and alterations (SFA form).  Applications should be completed using this form and guidance notes.


CDM Regulations – undertaking construction work

CDM regulations places explicit responsibilities on the Client. This could be either the Council corporately or the School.  The client must be named and must appoint a Principle Designer and Principal Contractor if there is more than one contractor.  The Client has a number of legal duties that they must perform.  All construction work must have a written Construction Phase Safety Plan.  Further information can be found in the CDM Procedure.



School Responsibilities for Servicing and Testing 

(Please note that this is not an exhaustive list).




Gas Soundness Testing


Oil Fired Boilers

Six monthly

Biomass Boilers

Six monthly

Gas Boilers


Gas Appliances


Gas Fired Catering Equipment


Water Sampling and chlorination

To be reviewed quarterly and storage tanks cleaned and chlorinated as recommended.

Water hygiene risk assessment

To be reviewed and if required updated every two years


To be checked with boiler/appliance.

Monitoring following water hygiene risk assessment

Regular checks  to be carried out including temperature checks and flusing

Portable Appliance testing

As per risk assessment

Portable Fire Fighting equipment


Fixed Electrical Wiring Installation

Five yearly (Annual for hazardous inst)

Fire Safety Risk Assessment

Subject to annual review.

Fire Alarms


Emergency lighting

6 monthly

Lightning Conductors


Powered Pedestrian Doors

Six monthly

Passenger Lifts


Goods Lifts


Powered Stair/step lifts


Lift Insurance

Continual policy cover required – Insurance inspection 6 monthly.

Local Extract Ventilation


Compressors/Pressure Vessels and Compressed Air

Annual or frequency stated by Written Scheme of Examination

Playground and Gym Equipment


Fume Cupboard testing


Mixer Valve Testing

Quarterly Inspection with water hygiene visit.



Comfort Cooling

Six monthly

Induction Hearing Loops

Six monthly

Traffic barriers & electronically operated gates

Six monthly

Roller Shutters

Six monthly

Fall arrest systems


Sprinkler systems

Six monthly (Major/Minor)

Swimming pool specialist plant

Various dependant on item