The Department has 72 properties, including 34 primary schools, five secondary schools, the IoM College of Furthernd Higher Education, special need units, youth centres, outdoor education centres and property/grounds maintenance facilities.
The responsibility for maintaining and planning the development of these diverse facilities lies with the Estates Division.
The Division encompasses the Works Division, where there is a team of 54 staff based at Snugborough and at regional grounds maintenance centres, who are responsible for the maintenance of the properties and grounds.
The Works Division has an annual budget of circa £4.6m, together with a further £2m of capital funding of minor schemes. The annual workload is prioritised for spending based on the condition, suitability and capacity of each property.
The Department has Asset Management Plans of all its primary schools and secondary schools and the Isle of Man College, together with a 20-year life cycle maintenance plan.
Priority is given to health and safety and condition issues. The Division is responsive to changing educational needs and forthcoming legislation, including disabled access, and energy saving/carbon reduction measures.
The summer and other holiday periods are particularly busy periods for the Division. Annual maintenance, particularly electrical, heating and plumbing works, are commonly carried out over these periods, since isolation of services are required.
The refurbishment of classrooms and common school facilities is carried out throughout the year, providing schools have sufficient capacity to enable the areas to be out of action, and for safe/segregated access to be maintained.
The Department actively encourages craft apprenticeships and works closely with the Department of Economic Development’s Training Services Division to place young people in the appropriate area within the DEC’s Works Division.
There is also a capitally funded programme of major works. Once a need has been established, a business case is developed and prioritised by the Department and funding provision is sought from Treasury, which is confirmed on an annual basis within the Budget Pink Book.
Following a detailed briefing process, design work is completed, planning approval obtained and the works tendered. Tynwald approval is then sought to progress to site. Projects involving extensions to live schools, within constrained sites, are difficult to execute, but there is a clear emphasis on ensuring segregation of the construction site, and minimising disruption to the operation of the school.
Recently completed projects include the Deans Building at Queen Elizabeth II High School, providing English, Music, Drama and cold dining facilities, Ramsey Grammar School South Building, providing post-16, special needs, CDT, Art and Rural Science facilities, and the extensive redevelopment of Peel Clothworkers’ School. Scoill Ree Gorree in Ramsey, which opened in September 2008, replacing the antiquated facilities at Albert Road, is a welcome addition to the property portfolio, meeting new standards in sustainability and energy performance.
The Department gained approval at July 2009 Tynwald to progress to site with the £32.8m St Ninian’s Lower school project at Bemahague, which is now on site and due to open in September 2012. This new development will replace the existing Park Road facility (the lower school) and also see the transfer of Year 10 from St Ninian’s upper school, to the new school.
Also within the Estates Division is the School Meals Service, with responsibility for providing school meals at primary schools. Meals are provided from 34 kitchens. Over 450,000 meals were provided in the last year. Diet is such an important factor in ensuring proper educational development and growth and the service plays a very important role in providing a healthy and nutritious lunch.