Our Vice Chair of Governors, Mr Nick Page and Chair of our Expansion Building Committee welcomes you to have a look at the most recent developments to our new build.
Please click on the link below.
Mr Nick Page, Vice Chair of the Governors
Mr Tiger Rhodes
Mr David Harbottle (First Phase of the project 2014/2015)
Mr Douglas Hudson
Tiger and David both have professional experience of school building projects; Douglas is a Chartered Accountant and also has experience of various building projects.
Our Buildings Committee, chaired by Mr Nick Page reports directly to our Governing Body.
Background and History
Now that the building is well under way, it is easy to forget how long ago the project started. From the beginning of the project, in early 2013, the school has been advised by DHP who are a firm of property, design and building consultants based in Weybridge and specialising in work for schools. The DHP partner, John Whiting, has been associated with Grayswood School and involved with our annual property review for many years; John has strengthened this association by becoming the project manager for the school’s expansion.
Although it was not the beginning, the momentum grew when Surrey’s Cabinet Member for Education gave the go-ahead in October 2013 for the school to expand from an infant school to a through primary. At this point, the Governors realised that they needed a building committee to work with DHP and to help the school with some of the important decisions that would have to be made. Nick Page, Vice Chair of the Governors, was very fortunate to be able to co-opt Tiger Rhodes, David Harbottle and Douglas Hudson and the four of them formed the Building Committee: Tiger and David both had professional experience of school building projects; Douglas is a Chartered Accountant and also has experience of various building projects.
The Committee worked closely with Headteacher Sally Bloomfield and School Business Manager Jo Jackson to meet the DHP architectural team and help them produce the plans most appropriate for the future of the school. Meetings and consultations were also held for all members of staff, for parents and for local residents.
The next major milestone was the submission of the planning application to Surrey County Council, just before Christmas 2013. In the early part of 2014, Ailsa Guidi arranged for governors to be available in the school playground on Friday mornings in order to answer parents’ queries about the expansion. The plans were available in both paper and electronic form to help answer questions.
From this time too, the Building Committee was meeting at least once a month; apart from the committee, those attending regularly were John Whiting, Melanie Bertie (architect at DHP) and representatives from the Guildford Diocesan Board of Education.
The original plan for the expansion was for the extra academic year (Year 3) to start from September 2015. However, after lobbying from parents whose children would be in Year 3 from September 2014, the project was accelerated and Surrey agreed to the September 2014 expansion. This put pressure on the work to be done because an extra classroom had to be provided earlier than previously expected; furthermore, work had to begin before planning approval was granted at the end of April 2014. The enabling works for the provision of a Year 3 classroom began in the Easter 2014 holidays and were completed just before the beginning of term in September 2014; other minor alterations were made including a new disabled toilet where the old First Aid room used to be. Because of the eventual loss of natural light in the current Year 1 classroom, Velux windows were put in the roof of this classroom at the same time.
During the second half of the 2014 Summer Term, there was an extended process to choose the contractor for the main project; five companies were invited to tender and several meetings were held with DHP and their quantity surveyor to obtain the best contractor for the job. By the end of the term, we appointed Deeks and Steere as contractors for the main project.
The main project began at the end of August 2014. There was a regular dialogue between the school, the Building Committee, DHP and Deeks and Steere. Initially, a monthly meeting was held but from Half Term, November 2014, a smaller weekly meeting was additionally introduced; the weekly meeting was usually Nick Page, John Whiting (DHP), Deeks and Steere’s site manager and a representative from the school staff (either interim Head Sue Heath or School Business Manager Jo Jackson). Occasionally extra meetings were added when circumstances dictated.
Over the last six months, the progress is clear to see. Early on, the outside toilets were demolished and the site was cleared. Then the piles were put down for the foundations: 45 piles, some as deep as 18 metres. After that, the steel frames for the foundations were inserted and concrete was poured into them. By Christmas 2014, the frame of the new hall had been erected. A large crane was used to move the steel girders; sometimes, certain classrooms had to be emptied when the girders were moving over them.
As time has gone on, more and more of the outline of the final building is becoming apparent. Bricklaying has been progressing and a temporary covering is now over the hall roof. The next major step has been to put the first floor onto the two storey section which will include the classrooms for Year 5 and Year 6. This means that the ground floor rooms are now clear to see: the Year 5 classroom is nearest the school entrance with cloakrooms etc between it and the new hall; beside the hall is the block containing the kitchen, boiler room and various store rooms. On the upper level, the Year 6 classroom is directly above Year 5; above the kitchen, there is a library and a practical base. A lift is being installed to provide disabled access to the upper floor.
Extreme weather has caused problems at times: the site was very wet at the beginning of the main project; then six days of bricklaying were lost when the temperature was below 3 degrees centigrade. Thus, the programme for the project is under constant review; Saturday working is an option which has already been used on several occasions. The Building Committee has been very helpful in challenging the contractors about the proposed timing so that there is maximum flexibility at the end of the project.
One of the final jobs to be started will be the conversion of the current half-hall and kitchen into the new Reception Year classroom; this will also include its own dedicated toilets. Because the school will then lose the use of the kitchen and the small hall, this job will be started as late as possible.
It was no great surprise that we were not able to include everything in the project that we had requested in our original brief to DHP. The main items to be excluded were a new pupil entrance and a reorganisation of the reception and staff areas. We hope that these can be included in the future either through grants or fund-raising.
Photographs of the project from September 2014 up to recent days are now on the school website.
Vice Chair, and Chair of Buildings Committee.