The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in many schools needing to seek advice in relation to their existing buildings. Due to the pandemic and the need for greater social distancing, schools are needing to use every inch of room they have available, leading to many doing small building alterations / modification projects, for example to turn store rooms into enlarged classrooms. At one school we work with, the existing staff room has even been changed into a classroom. Another school has undertaken internal alterations to change offices and adjoining gym stores into two extra classrooms.
Schools are also having to find space and make changes and adapt rooms to accommodate Covid testing stations. One of our school clients has transformed a dance studio into a Covid testing area.
Moving forward, with social distancing and testing set to stay with us for a while, and some schools may need to try and create more space. Our School Building Consultants can work with you to assess your school building and suggest ways that may achieve more space most feasibly and in the most cost-effective way. For some schools, expansion may be the only option and we can work to draw up plans, tender the works and compare bids to assess best value. Although funding is limited for expansion projects, a small pot is available where certain criteria can be met.
Where there is a need for such urgent building work to be undertaken, schools without an existing consultant can sometimes be left out on a limb. This is because finding contractors with the suitable experience of working within the education sector can be a time-consuming process, as can specifying the works and managing the tendering process.
Our existing school clients needing to consider their options to account for Covid-19, however, have access to our consultants’ advice on an ongoing basis as and when it is needed, which has placed them in good stead in the current pandemic.
With an increased emphasis on school leaders having strong management of their budgets, many schools are going down the route of having an estate management plan put in place. This allows for all areas of the school’s buildings to be inspected and a plan created in order to maintain them, with condition of repair and the best allocation of budget being factored in. Whilst there may be the need for plans to be amended as other things become prioritised, such as has been the case for those schools needing to create more usable teaching space, having a plan in place means that the budget available is being put to best use and the areas of the school in most urgent need of repair will have been addressed first.
Schools taking such an approach are in an advantageous position and can make decisions armed with knowledge and access to expert advice, allowing them greater flexibility and control.
For any advice in relation to the upkeep, maintenance or development of a school’s buildings, contact our School Building Consultants. Our team have a wealth of knowledge within the sector and can work with schools to help not only in the project management of one off projects, but also to put longer-term plans in place.