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Top tips for success with your CIF bid

Oct 4, 2021 | Blog, Education, General

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The CIF Bid Process

The CIF bid process is complex with a number of distinct elements that must be clearly addressed, within the parameters set in a variety of Government issued directives.

With a work schedule already overloaded by the day to day duties of a busy SBM, we would strongly advise that the application process for any major building project for which CIF funding is sought, be placed in the experienced hands of a Chartered Surveyance Consultant. Often at no upfront cost to the school, the consultant will do exactly what needs to be done and deliver the finished bid in the correct format, on time.

Early engagement with the building provider is also crucial to ensure that the design submitted suits both the school’s available space and its specific educational requirements. Adherence to ESFA standards such as robustness, longevity, energy efficiency and warranties are considered to be a necessary prerequisite to any bid. Also consider the importance of access points to the outdoors, covered walkways for outdoor learning and how to manage student flow in a controlled Covid safe manner.

Every CIF bid has three distinct elements: Output, Planning and Cost. Each of these should be presented in its own separate PDF of a size no greater that 1 Mb, submitted before the mid December deadline often in a daunting final scramble.


This section must demonstrate the specific issue that needs to be addressed and to prove that the existing school infrastructure cannot provide the necessary space. There are two types of project that need to be handled differently: the replacement of dilapidated building stock and a shortfall in space.

Building Replacement

The report must be highly evidence based containing a conditions related survey supported by photographic evidence and proof of an unsustainable repair and maintenance cost. It must refer clearly and directly to the relevant sections of the Condition Data Collation Report, issued by the Government. Failure to do this accurately will result in a failed bid.

Additional Space

You must demonstrate the current shortfall in space by measuring existing space relative to the guidelines issued in Building Bulletins 103 (BB 103). If a new building is to qualify it must be shown to address one or more of the following elements of BB 103: the size of the rooms, the number of rooms or the types of rooms. This must be supported by proof that these additional requirements cannot be provided for within the existing school buildings.


The fundamental need for this section of the bid is to show that initial project planning has reached the point at which delivery is achievable. You must be able to demonstrate that you have:

Contractors lined up
Considered the need for planning permission
Made a detailed site assessment including contractor access
Developed a time plan
Conducted a services survey

All these elements can be provided by a contractor that provides a complete turnkey service including design and planning.

In addition, the full cost of the project must be shown to fall within the limits specified by the Education and Skills Funding Agency. The ESFA supply national rates for funding work within the school estate for projects ranging from light refurbishment through to replacement and new build. Schools and academies are expected to abide by these budgetary limits and will not be allowed to exceed what the Government would spend on equivalent projects in its own estate.


This section must show that engagement with potential suppliers has been sufficient to establish ALL costs associated with the build. A consultant will provide a school with a budget cost plan which will include proof of adherence to ESFA cost guidelines and total cost certainty with agreed market rates on a project that has already been competitively priced.

Meeting The Deadline

These vital aspects do not constitute part of the bid document, but it is essential that both are diligently and accurately executed. Each section must be presented in a PDF no larger than 1 Mb: this is particularly difficult to achieve if photographic evidence is required. The deadline for bids is usually the middle Friday of December. The website is notoriously prone to overload and crashing in the weeks leading up to this date. An experienced consultancy will ensure round the clock staff coverage to continually upload your fully completed and compliant submission until it has been successfully delivered.

The guidance for the 2022-23 round is yet to be published but you can download the pdf CIF 2021 22 Information for Applicants from the Department for Education.


If you need help with your CIF building designs - just speak to our team today.


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Tags: CIF bid

About the author

Mark Brown
Consultant at TG Escapes - Mark has spent time growing up with the army, studying computing before the internet existed, and founding The London Classic Theatre Company, self sustaining for over 25 years. He trained in marketing with Unilever before moving into advertising as a strategist with Leo Burnett, Creative Director at Starcom and founder of award winning creative agency Weapon7. He has a passion for eco buildings and helps run the social enterprise Street Wisdom, providing free creative walkshops around the world.

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