Strong relationships are central to delivering gold standard schools

22 March, 2021

Relationships are crucial with any construction project, but this is especially true for education facilities. Associate quantity surveyor Tom Wint discusses the role strong relationships between clients and delivery partners plays in the development of gold standard learning environments for schools.

At Pick Everard, we are experts in the delivery of primary, secondary and SEND education facilities, with an excellent track record demonstrating where we have facilitated the provision of high-quality education facilities for our clients.

But what is central to any school development is coming up with solutions that suit its end-users. This must be done on an individual school basis, which means every single project needs to have its own approach to design and budget.

Of course, one relationship absolutely crucial to the smooth delivery of any school development is that between delivery partners – especially with the contractor. These relationships can make or break the success of a project, and in an ideal world a harmonious collaboration between all parties culminates with an excellent development delivered on time and on budget.

As well as the delivery partners and clients, headteachers and teaching staff also have an important role to play. They understand the needs of their pupils better than anyone and having them actively involved with the design process – along with parents and the students themselves where allowed – can be crucial to delivering a gold standard learning environment, especially for SEND schools.

The needs of pupils attending SEND schools are incredibly diverse and means that these schools need to be equipped and flexible enough to provide for a range of different areas. Such schools may need to provide for pupils who have physical disabilities, but also those who may face challenges with communication and interaction skills, cognition and learning, or behaviour or social characteristics just to name a few.

Teacher and parent involvement will inform the creation of bespoke designs that specify the facilities, layouts, access and even materials appropriate to the needs of pupils. This early involvement also alleviates cost issues later down the line, when staff or parents may identify an issue with part of the construction when it is under way – which is much more costly to rectify.

However, it’s important that the relationship between all parties and the client is open enough to discuss where certain decisions do impact budgets or timelines. One example of this can be the decision on materials and their effect on overall budget. Certain materials do cost more upfront, but will have a much longer lifespan, so an open relationship between all parties is important to be able to help the client make the best decision possible for both the build and the budget.

There is perhaps more of an education exercise here with clients on the upfront versus whole life cost of materials – and therefore overall building lifespan. We have seen in the last year or so that many more briefs are examining modular construction or include a requirement for renewables, but this whole life cost conversation needs to expand beyond the net zero carbon element.

We continue to be very proud of the work we do at Pick Everard to ensure our clients get the best possible developments when they use our services, working closely with teams to foster those relationships that ultimately ensure pupils and staff get the most out of the environments we create for them.

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