A guide to the Condition Improvement Fund

Heating and ventilation is a critical part of any school building but did you know that the Education Funding Agency (EFA) provides money through its Condition Improvement Fund (CIF) to help academies and colleges upgrade and replace their existing heating systems? Gaining access to these funds can be difficult. In the 2015/16 school year, the CIF was 4 times oversubscribed and any project wishing to be considered had to be deemed as “high level”. Those seeking funds had to be an open academy, sixth-form college, or have a signed academy order as of 1 November 2015 and not be part of a larger MAT or chain.

The EFA has a sliding scale of priority and some of those in the “highest” and “high” brackets are considering replacing their mechanical services.


The highest priority for the CIF includes tackling potential legionella threats which can occur when your water system:

  • has a temperature between 20–45 °C
  • creates and/or spreads breathable droplets, e.g. at a water outlet
  • stores and/or re-circulates water

As a mechanical services company we can:

  • identify and assess the sources that could be linked to legionella
  • manage any risks from your systems
  • keep and maintain the correct records

If you feel you have a potential risk at your commercial property or school premises, we are ready and available to carry out a detailed survey and provide the solution that’s right for you.

School Heating

The CIF has a specific clause that allows heating in schools to be seen as a ‘high level’ necessity, stating that “We will then give priority to projects that ensure weather tight buildings and continuous heating and water supply.” This provision is below fire protection systems, electrical safety and emergency asbestos removal but still higher than many other requirements.

Seek Professional Advice

One of the key requests from the EFA is to seek professional advice. 361 Degrees has over 30 years of experience working with educational institutions to provide energy efficient, cost effective and hassle free heating and other mechanical installations.

We also understand that sometimes it’s not your boiler that’s the problem. Poorly maintained pipework, insufficient ventilation and inadequate energy controls can all cause issues. Because we consult and survey before designing your solution, we can potentially save you thousands of pounds by tailoring the project exactly to your needs.

Salix Loans

When submitting your final application for a boiler or heating system through the Condition Improvement Fund, you should also apply for a Salix loan if the works will lead to energy saving. The reason why they are called Salix loans is because the energy assessment will be carried out by Salix Finance.

You can only apply for an interest free Salix loan through the CIF. The minimum value is £8,000 and the EFA state that:

“The loans will normally be paid back over a period of 8 years. We strongly encourage those applying for boiler and heating works to request at least part of the project to be funded using a Salix loan as in most cases, replacement boiler projects will lead to an annual saving. We may decrease the value of the requested loan amount following the assessment by Salix, if their assessment shows that the planned energy savings are insufficient to pay-back the loan amount within the required time period. Salix loan repayments will be taken in the same way as the CIF loan repayments.”

361 Degrees

Schools are our speciality.

361 Degrees provide consulting, survey, design, install and commissioning expertise on a wide range of mechanical services including air conditioning, heating, ventilation and energy controls.

Regularly working with bursars, facilities managers, business managers and governors of schools, colleges and universities has allowed us to understand the education sector and the unique challenges it presents.


Although our systems are custom built, we also understand the financial constraints. We can provide the best system for the fairest price and even offer different options of heating, ventilation and air conditioning depending on your budget.

For all our education customers we have designed a range of installation and servicing packages that include:

  • school holiday working at no extra cost
  • engineers that are always DBS checked
  • the ability install new systems or simply manage ageing and/or existing ones
  • free site surveys, designs and project management
  • a quote price promise - no extra costs for the system we design


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