Highfield & Heathfield Schools, Birmingham

The Project

Volsen were appointed Principle Contractors for the refurbishment projects at both Highfield Junior & Infant School and Heathfield Primary School in Birmingham during the summer of 2017. Both schools have busy sites accommodating 120 and 60 children respectively in each of the seven-year groups. In order to minimise the disruption to teaching and learning it was imperative that the majority of the works were undertaken and complete by the start of the new academic year in September 2017. This was also a key factor in ensuring that we could safeguard the welfare of both new and returning pupils, as well as staff and visitors to the school. Our priority is always to prevent disruption to the school community and ensure business continuity.

The existing asphalt roof on both school sites appeared to be in a reasonable condition, however, were deemed to be approximately 25/30 years old and coming to the end of their life. The schools were also facing issues with the skylights, which were

cracked and brittle and coupled with the fact that both sites had a cold roof system with no insulation, it was agreed that they required a thermal efficiency upgrade. The school were successful in receiving CIF funding to conduct the refurbishment works and Make Consulting Ltd were appointed Consultants to manage the Project on behalf of The Prince Albert Community Trust.

Management of the Project

Volsen undertook the role of Principle Contractor and as such took responsibility for ensuring legal conformity for all Health and Safety activities, organised the setup and management of the site including welfare facilities and secure compound, as well as managing the successful delivery of the project to a time frame that suited the Client.

To prevent disruption to the school communities, all deliveries for the roofing work were arranged during the summer holiday period. All materials and equipment were stored in our compound to prevent damage, vandalism and to ensure they did not pose any risk to pupils, staff and visitors of the schools.

Our Contracts Manager was on hand every day to oversee the works and conduct daily Health & Safety and quality inspections. This was particularly important to ensure that the schools were fully operational in the September with minimal interference to their day-to-day operations.

Safeguarding and Health & Safety

We take our responsibilities regarding Safeguarding and Health and Safety extremely seriously. Prior to the commencement of works on site an independent specialist Health and Safety advisor was engaged to ensure the risks, control measures and subsequent residual risks were highlighted and appropriate actions undertaken. This was completed on-site to ensure that risks specific to the location could be managed and eliminate risk to pupils, staff, visitors, and contractors.

Adaptations to the scaffolding were made through the use of brick guards and triple handrails to ensure that there was no loss of materials or equipment from the roof area. Safe and secure access and lifting points were created with Heras fencing and all ladders were

removed at the end of every day and secured in our compounds.

Due to the fragile state of the skylights, plywood was used to secure inside of the skylights ensuring that no glass or other debris was able to enter the internal rooms.

We are fully aware of the responsibilities that schools have regarding safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. To support us to discharge our legal duties regarding safeguarding, it was important for us to ensure that all contractors working on site had undertaken enhanced DBS checks and that these showed no risk to individuals. All staff were briefed regarding their responsibilities relating to conduct and behaviour, as well as undertaking training on Safeguarding (inc. Prevent) to ensure they understood what to do if they had a concern for the welfare of a child or vulnerable adult. The Site Manager leading the project understood the schools safeguarding policy and who the Designated Safeguarding Person in the school was.

The roofing system

The Sika Liquid Plastics 25 Year roofing system was specified by the Surveyors as it ensures a complete covering even when applied to tricky detail areas and around existing plant fixings. As a cold applied system, there was no need for any heat or naked flames to be used on the roof, eliminating the risk that can be associated with the use of gas torches or heat guns.

Sika roofing systems are the market leaders in the industry, largely due to their innovative approach.

This is evident in the Decothane Ultra system used on this project, which is low in odour and can therefore be used in environmentally sensitive areas such as with schools who have a close proximity to the public. This is important as it significantly reduces the risk of disruption and the negative impact this would have on the schools and local communities.

Sika provide comprehensive specifications and technical support. All Sika projects benefit from a Sika site survey, intermediate visits and a final inspection to ensure the highest quality of workmanship. The systems that they supply are installed with a 25 Year Guarantee providing complete peace of mind for the Client.

How can we add value?

We firmly believe in going the extra mile for our Clients and this is clearly demonstrated in the extra work and thought given to this project; from the installation of leaf guards to ensure that the new gutters work as efficiently as possible, to the installation of lightning conductor clips and cable trays. To ensure that the finished roofing works looked as good as possible we painted the tired looking ductwork and replaced the old shed housing the water tank on the roof, at no extra cost.

We are acutely aware that our skills and expertise can be used in more places than just the roof. Understanding the challenges that schools and colleges face within the Ofsted Common Inspection Framework, we are committed to working with pupils

and staff to raise awareness of careers and employability through a range of classroom-based

activities and practical demonstrations/activities including talks about the careers in construction, ‘have a go’ roofing activities, as well as tours of the works (when safe to do so). We are happy to work closely with your student body to discuss concerns or suggestions that they have regarding the works.

Where appropriate to do so we are also keen to offer the chance of work experience to students considering a career in the construction industry. The timings of a summer works programme can often coincide with careers events and industry days. We would be delighted to support these where available.

The key to success on this project was through positive communication with both the Client and their Consultant, as well as our collective consultation with Sika Liquid Plastics Area Field Technician, who regularly attended both sites for quality inspections and freely offered his suggestions and advice.

Following the successful completion of this project, we were appointed to complete further refurbishment works to roofing areas on both school sites alongside an additional school and caretaker’s bungalow not included in the original CIF funding. These additional works were fully funded by the Client and demonstrate the quality of our workmanship and their satisfaction with our service.