At Fairland Contractors, we’re well-known for fast-track renovations in the hospitality industry. However, over the last few years, we’ve been taking on more and more school refurbishments. We enjoy working with our clients in this sector, and because we’re a family-run business with low staff turnover, we know they enjoy working with us! We thought we’d share more details on our experience working in this sector in this article. Read on to discover why fast-track refurbishment is vital in education, recent design trends and some favourite projects!
School Refurbishments – Better spaces for pupils and staff.
Why fast-track matters in school refurbishments:
Most (but not all!) of the school refurbishments we carry out take place in the holidays. However, if your job is urgent and needs to be completed in term time, we can still help. Above all, we’ll work with you to ensure the minimum impact on your pupils and staff. So, if this means working night shifts, that’s what we’ll do.
We understand the need to segregate our working environment so it doesn’t impact pupils in attendance, and we always take steps to manage this.
We also deliver brand new schools. In these circumstances, we generally complete work and handover the project six to eight weeks before the school opens to the children. This gives enough time for critical Ofsted inspections to take place and allows staff to familiarise themselves with their new building and how it functions.
Design trends in educational spaces:
Schools have come a long way in recent years. There is a recognition among school leaders that creating an educational space where pupils thrive requires investment in facilities that one wouldn’t always have associated with a learning environment. Fewer chalkboards and rows of desks and more sensory areas to fuel young minds!
Many of our clients in this sector are specialist independent schools open to autistic young people aged 5+. We find that the school leaders have begun to work hand-in-hand with parents to ensure they provide a safe environment and meet the needs of their children.
Here are just some of the features our clients have asked us to include or place focus on in recent projects:
- Natural outside spaces with seating areas and gardens.
- Soft seating areas.
- Collaboration spaces.
- Multi-purpose and flexible learning environments.
- A priority is to deliver spaces that benefit from natural light.
- Emphasis on clear acoustics, high air quality and a balanced working temperature.
- Chill out terraced areas that emphasise the natural world with views of outside space.
- Sensory areas and immersion rooms – One project included a 360-degree interactive room allowing pupils to experience different locations worldwide, familiarising them with what life will be like after school.
- Sports areas with modern upgraded facilities. These have included digital driving ranges, multi-use game areas, and astroturf pitches.
- Above all, we’ve recognised the injection of ‘fun’ into schools. Designers have used bold colours and neon signs while ensuring that period features remain intact in some lovely old buildings we’ve worked within.
Some recent favourite projects:
Papworth Hall School:
The former hospital, Papworth Hall, was a beautiful grade 2 listed building. We transformed it into an outstanding school, keeping all the original features. It also benefits from sizeable external play areas. Our client for this project was the Options Group, part of the Outcomes First Group. The school offers specialist education to autistic pupils aged 5-11.
St Edwards, Cheltenham:
This recent school library refurbishment included laptop bars with couch areas for relaxation. We upgraded all the electrics and fitted new iPads and lighting. The completed project offered a much more relaxed library area for the pupils.
Feedback from happy clients:
Our work in this important sector positively impacts students’ and staff’s learning environment and educational outcomes.
We recently completed a relatively straightforward school refurbishment, updating the common areas and classrooms. The finished result has significantly impacted students, with the facilities manager telling us that the pupils have a newfound respect for their environment, with graffiti and deliberate vandalism disappearing.