Turning public assets into community benefits

Essex County Council Education Estates Strategy


Essex Council has over 1200 children’s services related properties. The remit for their education estates strategy is to make ‘entrepreneurial proposals’ that bring investment into the education estate to meet the needs and future demands on Essex County Council.

In order to really understand the brief we structured the challenge, which enabled us to understand the needs/demands of each service area eg. Special Educational Needs and Disability and Adult Community Learning. Then we wrote two supporting reports – Alternative Funding Sources and Procurement, Specification and Delivery.


We discussed and agreed the proposed objectives, scope and timetable for the work. We gathered sample data which showed the demands on the education estate and gave examples of alternative funding approaches for debate.

Our process meant that we became closely involved at ground level – working with all schools across Essex, different service providers to identify needs, talking with parents outside schools, talking to employers and further/higher education institutions etc.

Once we had worked out the key needs, we went on to identify funding opportunities and challenged standard procurement practice.


We identified 27 different ways of using the education estate to raise funds to invest in education facilities for both children and adults. By talking to employers, the jobless and people with long term issues of numeracy and literacy, we were able to propose a fully funded plan (from existing assets) that shows what facilities are most needed where. So far over £80M has been raised to invest in the education estate by adopting these approaches.

Aligned with a procurement strategy that promotes spending differently but wisely, ECC’s education estates strategy ensures that public funds are used to solve problems within communities rather than to ‘maintain the status quo’.

We prepared special packs for each stakeholder so they each understood first hand the details of the approach.