Essential School Maintenance

Essential School Maintenance

Who should read this?

Duty holders, including employers or people in control of premises and those with Health and Safety responsibilities for others, to help them comply with their legal duties.

The guidance below focuses on maintenance of school buildings and assets. Schools will have other Health and Safety obligations that are covered under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and other relevant legislation.


Who is the Duty Holder?

The Duty Holder would depend upon the type of school:


School Type

Duty Holder

Community schools, community special schools, voluntary-controlled schools, maintained nursery schools and pupil referral units

Budget Holder or Employer

Foundation schools, foundation special schools and voluntary-aided schools

Governing Body

Academies, free schools, community technical colleges and other independent schools

School Proprietor (the Academy Trust in the case of academies and free schools)


In some instances, the Duty Holder may appoint a Responsible Person to manage premises and associated statutory duties.


What is Essential School Maintenance?

Essential School Maintenance relates to the legal responsibilities of a school building and associated assets and:

  • ensures the Duty Holder is meeting their statutory duty
  • ensures a safe and secure environment for all building users
  • can reduce disruption to education
  • can extend the life of school assets
  • can reduce substantial maintenance and replacement costs in the future


What is required by the Duty Holder?

The Duty Holder must have a full understanding of their building and the associated statutory and essential school maintenance requirements. This can be achieved by:

  • Carrying out a Building Asset Audit
  • Carrying out a Condition Survey
  • Compiling a Planned and Preventive Maintenance Schedule/Plan
  • Using Approved Vendors/Contractors
  • Ensuring Value for Money is achieved.

Good Estate Management for Schools

Read this manual if you have responsibility for overseeing or managing the estate. This includes:

  • leaders and governors of schools
  • charity trustees of academies and academy trusts
  • trustees of schools
  • school business professionals
  • those with responsibility for the day-to-day running of the school estate
  • local authorities
  • diocesan authorities and other religious authorities and bodies

Click on Good Estate Management for Schools Guidance to learn more


Statutory Duty and Good Practice

The Duty Holder has a Statutory Duty or is advised to ensure the following legislation and recommendations are being implemented at their school. Please click on the Building Element to learn more:


Building Element


Air Conditioning

Statutory Duty

Asbestos Management

Statutory Duty

Convector heaters - fan assisted and natural

Good Practice

Display Energy Certificates (DEC)

Statutory Duty

Door maintenance

Good Practice

Drinking water dispensers

Good Practice

Dry Rot

Good Practice

Electrical – Portable Appliance Testing

Statutory Duty

Electrical – Fixed wiring testing

Statutory Duty

Evacuation Chairs  


Good Practice

Fire - Alarm Maintenance

Statutory Duty

Fire - Extinguisher Checks

Statutory Duty

Fire - Risk Assessment Statutory Duty
Fire - Sprinkler Systems

Statutory Duty

Gas - Burner  

Gas and Boiler

Statutory Duty

Gully cleaning


Good Practice

Water - Legionella

Statutory Duty

Lifts (Passenger)

Statutory Duty

Local Exhaust Ventilation (LEV)

Statutory Duty

Painting and Decorating

Good Practice


Good Practice

Roller Shutter (Pedestrian)


Security Shutter


Steps and handrails

Good Practice

Water - Unvented Hot Water Systems  
Water - Inhibitor Dosing Heating  

Window maintenance

Good Practice


Note: The above table will be added to over a period of time.

What could happen if you do not fulfil your Statutory Duty?

  • A person(s) could become ill, incur an injury or die
  • Buildings could be closed, disrupting the delivery of education
  • Head Teachers, Governors and Building Custodians etc. could face legal action
  • Head Teachers, Governors and Building Custodians etc. could receive a large fine along with court costs
  • Reputations could be damaged

Who should I contact?

Contact The Education Client Services Team on E: for further information


Further information

Good Estate Management for Schools

Managing your school estate well helps you to make the most of your resources.

Review the fundamentals of good estate management to establish your current position.


This manual uses a number of terms to reflect the different nature of schools. Review the terminology section to understand how this content applies to you.

Supporting tools

Tools are available to help you make sure your organisation has the right skills, processes and policies in place.


To provide feedback about this manual please contact

  1. Who should read this manual - Find out if this manual applies to your role.
  2. Terminology - Definitions of common terms used in this manual to reflect the differences between schools.
  3. The fundamentals of good estate management - An overview of the important policies, processes and documents schools should aim to have in place.
  4. Strategic estate management - Having a strategic approach with the right plans and documents in place will make sure the estate supports your education needs and goals.
  5. Overseeing the estate - The policies, procedures and data you should have in your organisation to help you manage the estate.
  6. Health and safety - Those with duties for health and safety in schools should make sure that the policies and the condition of the estate are compliant with appropriate legislation.
  7. Maintaining the estate - You should maintain the estate to make sure it is safe, warm and dry for all users.
  8. Understanding land and buildings - Managing the estate requires an understanding of the legal interests held and the condition, suitability and sufficiency of the land and buildings.
  9. Energy and water management - Understanding your energy and water usage will help you maximise your resources and minimise waste.
  10. Estate projects - Plan and deliver estate related projects to make sure the desired outcomes are achieved.
  11. Information, training and tools - Links to further information about good estate management including training, skills and other guidance



Schools may have in-house staff to carry out some plant and building maintenance but there will always be the need for specialist contractors. To enable both in-house and contracted staff to work in safety you will need to properly brief them on your site and processes, and you will need them to follow safe working practices. Please select the HSE – A brief guide to using contractors to learn more.

The Authority’s Building and Technical Services Team have a wealth of knowledge on school buildings and can offer expert advice and support on technical issues along with contract administration, when schools take out the B&T Service Level Agreement.


Who should I contact?

Build Enviroment on Telephone: 01274 431877

Lines open between 8am and 6pm












Page owned by Fatima Greenwood, last updated on 21/12/2023. This page has been viewed 13,680 times.