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School operations

Buildings and Grounds Maintenance and Compliance

Policy

This policy sets out schools’ requirements for inspection and maintenance of their facilities including the requirement to comply with mandatory obligations. It sets out how schools must respond to facilities-related safety incidents and access supplementary maintenance assistance if required.

Summary

  • Principals are responsible for maintaining a school’s buildings and grounds.
  • It is a function of school councils under the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Vic) to exercise a general oversight of their school’s grounds and buildings.
  • Schools must maintain site infrastructure, buildings and facilities with their Student Resource Package (SRP) allocation funding.
  • Asset Management Roles and Responsibilities Framework summarises the key responsibilities for corporate staff, principals and school councils for activities throughout each stage of the school asset management lifecycle.
  • This policy falls within the 'Manage' stage of the School Asset Lifecycle.
  • Where a school has sustained damage to facilities that pose an immediate and serious health or safety risk to occupants, schools must take reasonable measures to ensure the safety of everyone on site and then contact the DET Incident and Security Operations Centre on 1800 126 126.

In an emergency where there is an immediate hazard to students and staff, schools must contact Emergency Services (Fire Brigade, Ambulance, Police) on 000.

Details

Principals are responsible for maintaining their school’s buildings and grounds. This includes routine maintenance to prolong asset lifespan and reduce reliance on condition-based maintenance. The Department provides schools with SRP funding specifically for this purpose.

As part of their responsibility for maintaining school facilities, principals must:

  • comply with laws, regulations and policies established to support the safe and effective management of school infrastructure
  • prevent and respond to maintenance issues as they arise through appropriate inspections and works as relevant
  • manage urgent repairs
  • maintain buildings (internally and externally) so that they meet occupational health and safety requirements
  • maintain all essential services (including water, electricity and Essential Safety Measures – for more information, refer to the Essential Safety Measures Policy)
  • manage the school’s maintenance requirements within an annually defined budget
  • report compliance with key activities to the Victorian School Building Authority (VSBA).

Asset Information Management System

Over 2021 and 2022, the VSBA is rolling out a new Asset Information Management System (AIMS) to all schools. AIMS will make it easier for schools to manage their assets within a single portal. As schools gradually transition to using AIMS they will be provided with a transition date, staff training and support.

Refer to the Department’s advice on the Asset Information Management System (AIMS) for further information.

School maintenance

Principals are responsible for the maintenance of school buildings and grounds. This includes routine maintenance to prolong asset lifespan and reduce reliance on emergency maintenance activities. Refer to the Asset Management Roles and Responsibilities Framework for further information. To comply with these responsibilities, regular maintenance should be conducted.

Routine maintenance helps to support the upkeep of school facilities and prevent new maintenance issues from arising. Routine maintenance tasks are simple, small-scale activities undertaken regularly to prevent wear and tear and support the upkeep of buildings and grounds.

Unlike the condition-based maintenance tasks, the activities do not correspond to the unique profile of individual schools. Instead, schools are encouraged to tailor the routine maintenance schedule by selecting activities that are relevant to them. However, the following 6 routine maintenance activities should be scheduled as a minimum to decrease the possibility of costly and high-risk condition based tasks in the future:

  1. roof
  2. down-pipes and guttering
  3. pest-control (including termite treatment)
  4. foundations and structural beams
  5. stormwater drains, grates and channels
  6. roads and car parks and retaining walls.

Schools may access guidance material for support in developing a school maintenance plan. Refer to the Department’s policy on School Maintenance Plans and Rolling Facilities Evaluations.

Every 5 years, schools get an onsite condition assessment organised by the VSBA, known as the Rolling Facilities Evaluation (RFE). The RFE gives schools comprehensive information about the condition of their assets every 5 years. The RFE delivers regular assessments of the condition of buildings and other infrastructure such as car parks, footpaths and fencing at all Victorian government schools.

School maintenance plans (SMPs) help schools budget, schedule and manage the maintenance of their buildings and grounds, including for issues identified in the RFE, using an online portal. It enables schools to record and manage asset risks, and build a routine maintenance program to prevent condition-based maintenance issues. Refer to the Department’s policy on School Maintenance Plans and Rolling Facilities Evaluations for further information on scheduling routine maintenance tasks in SMPs.

AIMS will  support schools in managing and keeping records on SMPs through the automatic and manual scheduling of required tasks. Schools not yet provided access to AIMS must continue to maintain records through the online portal.

Compliance and monitoring for school infrastructure

The Department is committed to assisting schools to effectively manage their compliance obligations related to school infrastructure. 

The Department’s Risk Management Framework 2021 (staff login required) utilises the 3 lines of defence approach.

The First Line – Functions that own and manage risks

The first line of defence places reliance on the operational controls and activities that occur at the school. The school is responsible for implementing preventative and corrective actions to address risks.

The Second Line – Functions that oversee and support risk management

The second line provides support to schools through oversight and support. This includes functions that oversee and support risk management practices, set policy directions and monitor the effectiveness of controls. These functions are generally located within Region or the VSBA.

The Third Line – Functions that provide independent assurance

The third line provides a level of independent assurance that the risk management and internal control of the framework is working; for example, internal audit.

Mandatory requirements

Schools obligations related to school infrastructure are outlined in individual PAL policies.

These are

In addition, all schools must implement the Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Management System (OHSMS).

The OHSMS outlines how schools can meet their health, safety and wellbeing obligations. This includes conducting regular workplace inspections to identify health and safety hazards in schools. Refer to the Workplace Inspections Policy for further information.

All schools must have a current Emergency Management Plan (EMP) that addresses site specific hazards and threats which have the potential to result in emergencies and critical incidents. Refer to the Emergency and Critical Incident Management Planning Policy for further information.

These hazards and threats include bushfire.

Additional requirements apply to schools with bushfire identified as a threat or hazard in their EMP risk assessment and schools listed on the Bushfire At-Risk Register (BARR).

Refer to the Bushfire and Grassfire Preparedness Policy and Shelter-in-Place Buildings Policy for further information.

Key steps for compliance and monitoring

The Department’s infrastructure related compliance and monitoring methodology is defined by key steps which identify, manage and monitor compliance with obligations relating to school infrastructure.

1. Identify

  • The first step is for schools to identify the relevant mandatory maintenance requirements items for their school.
  • Schools must review each of the relevant policies annually and assess existing assets in the school to determine which policies apply.
  • Schools must ensure a record of assets is maintained, for example the number, type and location of gas heaters within the school.  

2. Manage

  • Required controls or activities for each asset must be recorded in the School Maintenance Plan.
  • Schools implement the required operational control or activity.
  • Depending on the compliance obligation, these activities and tasks may include arranging inspections, testing, monitoring, or routine maintenance activities.
  • Schools must follow the reporting process outlined in individual policies. Where possible and available, reporting occurs automatically through the new Asset Information Management System to minimise administrative burden
  • The VSBA can provide support to schools in identifying and managing the compliance activities and may at times be involved in the management of the activity.

3. Monitor

  • The VSBA monitors compliance with obligations (using the new Asset Information Management System where possible) and responds to non-compliance at a school and system level through direct intervention or revision of policies and procedures.
  • This monitoring contributes to annual attestation processes whereby the Secretary reports on compliance with key items including those related to the Asset Management Accountability Framework.

Support for schools

The Department supports schools to meet their mandatory compliance obligations through the work of the Asset Management Reform Implementation (AMRI) unit which supports schools with managing their essential safety measures and annual contracts. In addition, the School Asset Leadership team provides direct guidance and support to schools on request and the School Maintenance Advice and Planning team provides support to schools to complete and operationalise their School Maintenance Plans. These teams can be contacted on the number and email in the ‘Contacts’ section of this policy.

Where a school has insufficient funds for critical repairs costing $5,000 or more they may apply for assistance through the Emergency Maintenance Program.

AIMS will support schools in managing and keeping records on mandatory obligations through the automatic and manual scheduling of required tasks.  Schools not yet provided access to AIMS must continue to maintain manual records that reflect the completion of obligations.

Funding

The Department provides maintenance funding through a school’s SRP. This funding is for condition-based and routine maintenance works.

Principals must fully spend their SRP allowances for facilities on condition-based and routine maintenance activities in accordance with the Department’s polices.

The relevant SRP lines are:

  • Grounds Allowance (Reference 31)
  • Maintenance (Reference 35)
  • Annual Contracts and Essential Safety Measures (ACES) (Reference 36).

Principals must ensure maintenance expenditure is accurately reported in CASES21 (the administration and finance system for Victorian government schools):

  • Building Works expenditure should be charged to Account Code 86504 (Building Works), Sub Program 6201 – Maintenance and Minor Works.
  • Grounds Works expenditure should be charged to Account Code 86505 (Grounds Work), Sub Program 6201 – Maintenance and Minor Works.

In addition to the SRP, the VSBA may provide additional maintenance funding through the Planned Maintenance Program. Schools participating in this program must comply with the Planned Maintenance Program Policy.

Procurement

Schools must comply with the following policies when procuring construction and maintenance works or services:

Emergency Maintenance Program

When schools conduct routine maintenance and an unforeseen maintenance issue arises, schools may apply to the VSBA for assistance through the Emergency Maintenance Program (EMP).

The EMP targets unforeseen maintenance matters, posing immediate and serious health and safety risks that the school does not have funds to address.

The program is only applicable to circumstances where:

  • safety of students and/or staff is at risk
  • the problem could not reasonably have been foreseen
  • the school has insufficient funds from all sources (including in reserves) to fund the repair works. Assessment of funds will include the school’s bank balance, committed contracted works, and a base budget requirement which is calculated by the number of students enrolled in the school
  • the school has obtained an independent professional report for the maintenance issue
  • the school can demonstrate that SRP funding already provided for maintenance has been spent on routine maintenance
  • the school can demonstrate that any discretionary financial capacity is either contractually committed to other projects or is allocated to works that are of a higher priority than the unforeseen maintenance issue
  • proposed works are within the school’s designated facilities area as per the Capacity and Area Allocation Advice, and the affected area cannot be reasonably closed. Works at a Special Development School (SDS) and Special Schools will not be restricted to facility area allocations.

Schools seeking assistance from the EMP must submit their application (including quotes where relevant) via the SharePoint workflow system on eduGate (login required). This system allows schools to track the status of their applications. Schools should contact their regional office to assist with the completion of their application. The regional office will assess eligibility and validate the information provided by the school. Once validated by the region, the application will be assessed by the VSBA against the above criteria.

For detailed guidance on the Emergency Maintenance Program, refer to the Emergency Maintenance Program Guidelines in the Guidance tab.

Make-Safe Program

The VSBA’s Make-Safe Program assists schools that have sustained damage through an ‘incident’ or ‘event’. Schools in this situation must ensure the safety of everyone onsite and contact the DET Incident and Security Operations Centre on 1800 126 126.

Schools should then contact the Make-Safe service provider on 1300 133 468 to respond to the incident. The VSBA, through its service provider, will make the site of the ‘incident’ or ‘event’ safe for staff, students and the community. Under certain circumstances, the program may reinstate school facilities to an operational standard.

Reinstatement works will be subject to a second approval process by the VSBA. This is initiated at the completion of the make-safe works and will only be applicable in circumstances where:

  • safety of students and/or staff is at risk
  • the school has insufficient funds from all sources (including in reserves) to fund the repair works. Assessment of funds will include the school’s bank balance, committed contracted works, and a base budget requirement which is calculated by the number of students enrolled in the school
  • the damage is not covered under separate insurance purchased by the school through the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority (VMIA).

School facilities will only be reinstated to the school’s designated facilities area. Reinstatement to Special Schools and Special Development Schools (SDS) will not be restricted to facility area allocations.

For detailed guidance on the Make-safe Program, refer to the Make-safe Guidelines in the Guidance tab.

Definitions

Event
An event is a natural or incidental occurrence that makes a site unsafe. Examples may include floods, fires, storms, and civil disturbance.

Incident
An incident is any malicious activity by a person that makes a site unsafe. Examples may include vandalism or theft of infrastructure critical to safety.

Relevant legislation

Department policy on how schools maintain buildings and grounds, including information on the Emergency Maintenance Program and the Make-Safe Program

Reviewed 27 August 2021

Policy last updated

26 August 2021

Scope

  • Schools

Contact

Victorian School Building Authority

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