Grounds maintenance

Department For Education

November 28
15:09 2019

Grounds maintenance

Find the right way to buy grounds maintenance for your school.

Your grounds maintenance staff, including contractors and subcontractors, must have public liability insurance and follow relevant health and safety regulations.

Further guidance on your obligations relating to school premises is available in standards for schools.

Find the right way to buy

Make sure you Ffollow your schools procurement rules. These may be your schools own rules or those set by the local authority (LA).

Choose from one of these 3 options that best meets your schools needs and circumstances. which include:belowYou have 3 options, :

  • usinge a framework
  • running your own procurement
  • in-house grounds maintenance

The option you choose will depend on your schools requirements and circumstances.

Use a framework

Frameworks can be quicker and easier than other buying options because theyve been:

  • assessed for compliance with procurement regulations
  • quality checked

If the lifetime value of your contract is over the ?EU Procurement threshold, you must use a framework agreement or carry out your own procurement, issuing an OJEU tender.

Go to use a framework

Run your own procurement

You can run your own buying process with external suppliers if you want to get bespoke grounds maintenance services.

Go to run your own procurement

In-house grounds maintenance

You can hire your own staff to carry out grounds maintenance in your school.

This may be useful if youre a multi-academy trust with several estates to maintain.

Go to in-house grounds maintenance

Use a framework

DfE reviews a range of frameworks. These are assessed for compliance with procurement regulations, ease of use, suitability and value for money.Find a DfE recommended framework for your school

Buying from a framework can be quicker and easier than getting bids or quotes because the agreements:

  • have already been through a full competitive tender process
  • have been quality checked
  • are checked to make sure they comply with the law
  • may have draft specifications and expert help available

If you choose to use a framework, you should consider the points below. following.


You should consider:

  • what equipment you already own
  • what equipment the bidding suppliers will provide
  • whetherif youll have to buy new equipment and the costs involved

Potential suppliers

When choosing suppliers, you should:

  • Ask for evidenceconfirm that DBS checks have been completed
  • invite suppliers to your school to assess the grounds
  • get feedback on suppliers by talking to other schools they provide for
  • get references from other schools for potential suppliers

Run your own procurement

If you cannot get what you need through a framework, you can run your own buying process to get services from external suppliers.

You should also read move to a new contract if running your own procurement means youll need to end your current contract.

You should consider whether:

  • existing contractors cover maintenance contracts
  • contractor tests and checks are up to date
  • you need to replace equipment because it belongs to the current supplierprovider
  • suppliers have completed DBS checks
  • staff training is required, such as control of substances hazardous to health (COSHH) and equipment handling
  • staff have been trained on health and safety regulations

Moving away from local authority provision

There may be timeframes around when the LA is obliged to release TUPE and Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) information.

These timeframes can cause delays and further expenses if you award the contract without having these details.

You may want to invite your LA to tender and involve them in the process so theyll provide. This way the information you need is provided during the bidding process.

In-house grounds maintenance

If you decide to hire your own staff, youll still need a specification to outline your needs.

You should also read move to a new contract if choosing in-house grounds maintenance means youll need to end your current contract.

Please refer to the information provided above. The following are other aspects that will need consideration.


You may want to consider:

  • what materials and equipment youll need
  • potential equipment maintenance costs
  • equipment storage
  • hazardous material storage
  • health and safety when using and storing equipment and materials

Staff training

Consider initial training for your staff such as:

  • health, safety and the environment
  • risk assessment skills
  • hazardous material or equipment storage
  • equipment and machines
  • waste management

It is important to keep up to date with staff training. Consider who will cover the daily responsibilities of staff who are away from the school undertaking training.


Train all staff so they know:

  • how to operate equipment
  • what procedures theyre expected to follow


Double-check your figures and requirements as a miscalculated business plan can be costly.

Consider whether costs will increase for:

  • staff, for example, increased numbers of staff of hours worked
  • planned staff holidays
  • absence management
  • garden materials
  • equipment requirements, including maintenance
  • storage
  • utility bills
  • initial staff training, such as training time
  • ongoing staff training for changes in qualifications and regulations


You may find you can:

  • offer grounds maintenance services to other local schools and generate additional income
  • negotiate better prices from product and equipment suppliers
  • increase quality
  • respond quicker if your equipment is broken or faulty
  • develop staff skills through bespoke training
  • be more in control of your expenditure

Move to a new contract

Moving to a new contract may take longer than you think. The points below will help you plan your changes.

Consider what you get from your current contract

If you already have a contract, consider:

  • the service youre currently paying for
  • what you want to change or improve
  • whether youll need to make a business case

Gather the information youll need

Before you move to a new contact youll need to know::

  • your notice period
  • the expiry date of your current agreement
  • the likely value of your specification

Decide when to start a new contract

To avoid disruption, try to start a new contract:

  • at the beginning of a new academic year
  • at the beginning of a new financial year

  • after an extended holiday such as Christmas or Easter

Allow for approval times

Youll need to talk to the school leadership team, governors and trustees so allow time for approvals.

You may find it easier to work backwards from your current contract end date and plan each stage of the process. Make sure you are aware of any notice period you need to give.

Keep staff informed

Talk regularly to all of your staff, especially your physical education team, as theyre the staff most likely to be affected.

Talk to stakeholders

Get feedback from people who use the grounds regularly, including:

  • staff and pupils
  • local sports clubs
  • social clubs and societies
  • holiday camps

Ask if they have any:

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