Ecclesiastical publishes new guidance to help brokers talk through key risks with education clients

7 January 2022

Bright school classroom with all chair facing forward

New research commissioned by ICMIF member and specialist insurer Ecclesiastical (UK) has revealed schools in the UK are responding to the climate crisis by investing in sustainable technologies and improving the efficiency of existing school buildings. Ecclesiastical has published new guidance to help brokers speak to their education clients about how to manage key risks when investing in new buildings and sustainable projects.

The survey of UK school leaders discovered the most popular sustainable investments schools are making within the next year are solar PV or heating panels (45%), buildings using modern methods of construction (MMC) such as cross laminated timber and rainscreen cladding (31%), and green / living walls or roofs (31%). This is closely followed by electric vehicle charging points (31%) and triple glazing (29%).

Four in five (86%) of UK schools surveyed are constructing or planning to construct new buildings. Of which one in five (21%) school leaders said construction is currently taking place, while more than half (53%) will have new buildings constructed within the next one to five years. One in 10 (11%) schools plan to construct new buildings in more than five years’ time.

As many schools across the UK are investing in new buildings, in Wales it was recently announced that all new schools have to meet net-zero targets from January 2022 and refurbishments, extensions and new builds at existing schools need to improve energy efficiency.

Faith Kitchen, Customer Segment Director at Ecclesiastical Insurance, said: “As one of the leading insurers of schools in the UK, Ecclesiastical is passionate about supporting the education sector. Brokers play an important role in helping education clients understand the risks they are facing and in ensuring they have the right cover in place. We hope this new risk guidance will help brokers encourage their education clients to consider how best to manage the risks they face when investing in new buildings and sustainability projects.”

Ecclesiastical’s guidance for schools investing in new buildings and sustainable projects includes:

  • When considering a new school building or sustainability project, consult all interested parties, including your insurers at the earliest stage. Your insurer’s requirements for fire protection and building resilience may be higher than building regulations. Involve your insurer at the design and planning stage so they can work with you to mitigate risks and advise you on the fire or other protection measures needed.
  • Some materials used in MMC construction such as timber framing and sheathing boards, insulation and cladding materials are combustible. Where possible, look for alternative non-combustible materials to achieve the same sustainable results.
  • Natural materials such as hemp, wool and straw and foam-based insulation products are all classified as combustible materials and used in conjunction with timber framing, or combustible cladding systems can have serious consequences for a buildings ability to withstand the effects of fire. Where possible, use a non-combustible material such as mineral wool or cellular glass to insulate your buildings.
  • When planning to install solar panels, always investigate the structural suitability of the building/roof and liaise with fire and rescue services on the location of panels and isolation switches.
  • Always use an accredited installer for the installation of any solar panels and / or biomass heating systems.
  • Biomass heating systems can present fire and carbon monoxide poisoning risks. To reduce these risks ensure they are contained in their own fire-resisting compartment which is separated from the fuel store. Restrict access to fuel stores to authorised persons only. Clean out the boiler house regularly and remove all combustible waste, clear out fuel stores regularly, and get flues to boilers inspected and cleaned regularly by a competent person.

Ecclesiastical Insurance offers a range of risk management support and guidance to help schools manage the risks they face. For more information, visit the Hub for Education.

In December last year, Ecclesiastical also launched its latest Education Risk Barometer to help brokers talk to education clients about the biggest risks they face in the short, medium and long-term.

Ecclesiastical recently launched a new proposition, Ecclesiastical Smart Properties, which uses cutting-edge technology to discreetly monitor for escape of water and electrical fire risks in real-time. Schools piloting the technology will also have the option to expand the system to monitor other types of risks and solve a range of problems including improving energy consumption and carbon footprint reduction at an additional cost.


For member-only strategic content on the cooperative/mutual insurance sector, ICMIF members have exclusive access to a range of online resources through the ICMIF Knowledge Hub.

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