Future-Proofing Education: The Department of Education

The Department of Education is responsible for all aspects of public education in New South Wales. It looks after 2,210 schools statewide that house 781,430 students. These schools have an immense base of physical assets – every physical asset in the classroom and on the campus needs to be maintained to keep the students safe and the school running.

Until 2012 the Department reviewed the state of their assets bi-annually, but the predictive power of this approach only stretched to a couple of years. AssetFuture has partnered with the Department since 2012 to record, store, and analyse their asset data, then use that to predict the next 25 years of maintenance spend, based on varying funding scenarios.

With the student population predicted to increase 21% over the next 15 years, the Department needed to not only maintain the current school portfolio, but also make sure that it could support the influx of new learners. The two asset audits conducted by AssetFuture provided key data that was input into the Schools Asset Strategic Plan 2031. Over 4.0 million data points were gathered, uploaded and analysed.

"The LCC assessments provided evidence based data that the condition of our schools was deteriorating and as a result record funding of $747 million over four years was allocated in the 2017/18 budget" - Brian Frankham, Director of Asset Performance and Facilities Management, School Infrastructure NSW

Analysis of the data through the AssetFuture Platform showed there was a significant backlog of maintenance, needing substantial funding to fill the gap. If funding levels remained the same, the maintenance backlog would increase to unacceptable levels in future years.

The Results

The Department of Education used these projections to build a case to Treasury, and gain the significant funding increase to keep maintenance liability stable over the next four years. In addition, deploying AssetFuture’s platform that listed condition, risk, and urgency of repairs, the Department was able to evaluate and quantify their maintenance backlog with accuracy. The additional funding provided as a result of this enabled them to reduce their maintenance backlog by 27% in turn improving their Facility Condition Index.

A Fairer Means of Distribution

The aggregation of all state data had further benefits for simplifying funding allocation. Previously, maintenance funding was calculated from a number of variables. The new data system reduced that to just one - the maintenance liability as projected by the Platform. The data also helps the Department’s strategic planning unit to prioritise and plan capital works.

The data we gathered is available to all schools via online dashboards, and this transparency has had a number of benefits for schools and the department. The new system helps principals understand funding decisions. Principals can now see, via an interactive dashboard, the asset key performance indicators associated with their school which leads to a better understanding of allocation decisions.

The Next Step

The Department of Education plans to update the entire asset data set every five years, while using AssetFuture’s portable technology to keep the asset database as live as possible by updating it whenever maintenance and capital works are conducted. It will also continue to refine the data to make predictions. The Department of Education now has two data sets to build predictions from – 2012-13 and 2016-17. By comparing the data sets, we were able to calibrate the useful lives in our modelling more accurately. With the next round of data-gathering, the algorithm will refine predictions to be even more accurate.

The lifecycle costing data is also being incorporated into the model developed to provide a more accurate calculation of the written down value and annual depreciation of the DoE school asset portfolio.

AssetFuture’s work has supported The Department of Education in building the data foundation for the next 25 years of public school work and maintenance, ensuring that the state’s next group of students have adequate facilities that are safe and functional.

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