Thursday, 1 November 2007

Of Elevations, Decant and Phasing

There are lots of areas of the BSF plans for the school that haven't yet been settled, and some are bigger/more important than others. Yesterday I went to a meeting with the architects and builders together with the Chair of Governors. In particular there were two important areas we focussed on.

The appearance of the building (Elevations).

Anyone at the Community Consultation Evening will have heard the architects say how may revisions there had been to the elevations. Love it or loath it, it's a very strong building and deciding what to put next to it has caused huge difficulties. I must have seen around 15 versions of the plans. These versions have been discarded because either the school didn't like them, the planners didn't like them or they were unaffordable. I'd imagine there are a good few we never saw because the architects themselves discarded them. What was eventually submitted in the final bid was what is termed a "pastiche" of the exisiting building. When the Governing Body saw the proposal they felt it was uninspiring and so it was back to the drawing board again. Just before half term we were presented with a few options and there was unanimous agreement amongst those in the room that the architects should work on elevations using "corten". This is a type of steel that oxidises over the years without flaking, so the building will gradually change in appearance. The idea is that the reception and windows will have colour that contrasts strongly with this, and there will be lots of internal colour as well. Personally I think the plans are now coming along well and looking exciting. Let's hope everyone else agrees.

Decant & Phasing Plans

This is the stickiest area of work at the moment. Of course it's impossible to have an £18 million building project without some disruption to school life, but it's really important that this is kept to a manageable level and that good, creative teaching can continue. In addition every penny that is spent on temporary accommodation is a penny not spent on works to the school, which no-one wants. The current plans for decant of classrooms and phasing of works are not acceptable to the school and quite rightly caused consternation with parents. Yesterday we agreed some guidelines (e.g. making the most of the time when Year 11 and 13 have left the school, not taking out half of the school for an entire year, office staff being able to "camp out") and agreed a timeline for MPB to come up with some solutions that we think can be put back to parents again prior to the Governors' Meeting on November 28.

The next few weeks are going to be really intense for all concerned. One thing all involved are unanimously agreed on is the "clunkiness" of the BSF process, which is certainly the most bureaucratic thing I've ever been involved in in 18 years of local government employment. To illustrate this I'm going to show a "meeting count" starting from now. This will only be a count of the meetings I attend from now on. I go to most meetings relevant to the school, but there are a few regarding ICT that I don't attend. Life's too short to count the ones I've been to so far, so here goes:

BSF Meeting Count as at 2/11/07: ONE


Anonymous said...

Decant is going to have a major effect on the lives of staff and students for the next two years so it is vital that the school holds a line and gets the best deal that it can.
Alan M

Anonymous said...

Decant is never as bad as people perceive it to be. It’s important to have blocks of temporary classrooms so staff are together to provide companionship, supervision, security etc. (I’ve recently used blocks of 4 and 8 classrooms + store and office)
Data and heating are all problems. Best heaters for doing the job and robustness are high level heater blowers, like you find in shop doorways. Data needs doing right if required, wireless sounds good but if it keeps dropping off staff soon lose faith and complain.

We installed 10mm MDF on all corridor walls from floor to waist height to stand up to vandalism (kicking plaster board walls).

DDA is quite demanding so your classroom provider needs to be aware and understand that you expect all conditions to be met.

Finally, you may need to consider fencing to avoid locals drifting up and disturbing lessons and staff at the end of the day preparing. We managed with temporary Heras fencing and positioning the classrooms in a sensible location.

Phil (PD on 2 Academy projects)
Jill has my contact if needed.

Jill C said...

Thanks for the useful practical comments and the reassurance. Decant on this scale is new to all of us and staff and parents are understandably a bit daunted by the prospect and keen that it's done as well as possible. In the past the students have been pretty easy-going about change, though.