Broad Oak Community Primary School typifies the challenges faced by primary schools today. Whilst the numbers of children attending have increased, capital expenditure to provide new facilities has been squeezed and there was a very real need to expand and provide new facilities now rather than wait for the Department of Education’s promised £23 Billion expenditure on school buildings over the next five years.
The role good school buildings play in improving children's learning and behavior is well recognised by teachers and academics and for parents, this is reflected both in the OFSTED report and their child’s performance in the SATs test in year 7.
For Broad Oak school the decision to expand was the responsibility of Alan Cartwright, service manager assets and buildings for St Helens Council, comments, “There were three main criteria we had for the tender – cost, minimising disruption to the school and a building that was future proofed and capable of being easily extended.”
Given these criteria, one option that was rapidly discounted was the option of a permanent building, given the budget and length of disruption to the site. What became apparent was that a modular solution was required which not only met the criteria demanded but offered several other notable advantages.
Developments in off-site construction mean modular buildings are remarkably energy efficient and comply with all relevant safety standards – right down to fitting child-friendly door hinges and windows. Also, it became apparent that a new modular solution could be delivered with a pitched roof and brick slip finish that was virtually indistinguishable from the existing school buildings and because it was modular any future expansion would be both practical and blend into the site seamlessly.
Key issues faced by Broad Oak Primary School
- Sourcing new classrooms for years 6 and 7 preparing for SATS
- Speed of implementation to resolve current issues with class sizes
- Minimising site disruption
- Finding a long term solution capable of seamless expansion to meet a growing pupil intake
- Finding a turnkey solution from a reputable educational supplier
What Springfield did
Five 3.6 metre units were linked to create the double classroom extension with male and female toilets, an external entrance and a wide corridor link to the main school building has been designed to allow further expansion at a later date. The installation of the classrooms kept the school and its children safe during the build cycle, connecting utilities and services right through to ensuring compliance with energy and safety standards.
Springfield Mobile’s managing director Lyndsey Duggan adds, “I think now across the educational sector, given the issues so many councils have identified in the condition of their school buildings, that it’s very hard to justify dedicated building on-site given we completed this inside 13 weeks from site preparation to handing over the keys.”
Alan Cartwright adds “Not only was Springfield the most competitive supplier who tendered, with the brick finish and sloping roof on the new classrooms it blends in perfectly with the existing site and in the words of the staff there, they’ve given us the best classrooms in the school.”
Summary and key benefits
Springfield delivered the £300 000 project for St Helens Council on time and within budget enabling the Broad Oak to gain more significantly classroom space than competitive tenders allowed. The two classrooms and toilet facilities finished in plastisol coated steel blend effectively with the overall site and offer many years of effective education and learning for generations to come at the school.
Alan Cartwright concludes, “We’ve nothing but good to say about Springfield Mobile, this was a major step up from earlier contracts providing portable offices and changing rooms and their response was terrific.”