By estates manager Tom Allardice, Loughborough Endowed Schools, in Leicestershire
As children enjoy the holidays and teachers take a well-earned break, it’s easy to think that schools stand still over the summer months. However, the reality is that the end of term means one thing: an opportunity for upkeep and improvements to the grounds and facilities. Staff at Loughborough Endowed Schools in Leicestershire are busier than ever making the most of a quieter campus ahead of the new term....
We may know them as the ‘school holidays’ but actually, a long break for pupils doesn’t always mean time off for those of us who work behind-the-scenes. Before the new academic year begins, a team of more than 100 estates staff will be taking advantage of empty classrooms and deserted sports fields, to ensure that our 82 acres, spread across two sites, are kept in tip-top condition.
It may sound like an enormous challenge, but with years of experience and good communication amongst all the different teams, by the time summer comes around we’re more than ready to get everything moving. The key to making sure all runs as smoothly as possible is to be well prepared and ready for anything that may stand in the way of work, such as bad weather or events such as weddings taking place in the grounds.
The long break is an excellent opportunity for us to work on large projects. We’re currently in the middle of an £8m rebuild of our Fairfield Preparatory School, creating new classrooms and a Kindergarten, a larger gymnasium, specialist arts and crafts rooms and office spaces, which is due to open in January 2016.
Sadly, it’s not possible to complete the development of an entire new building in just eight weeks, but we do try and make sure that the most disruptive construction periods take place while the children are away. Noise from heavy-duty machinery operating outside classroom windows would please neither staff nor students during lessons.
Summer is the perfect opportunity for us to push on with around 80 maintenance projects across the sites, including painting, building alterations, flooring replacement, deep cleaning, grounds maintenance, tree work, hard and soft landscaping and the renovation of sports surfaces.
It’s not just maintenance that the estates management team is responsible for. Health and safety tasks are far easier to complete without pupils on campus. We’re improving security by installing bollards at the entrance of the grounds – a job that is almost impossible during term time with hundreds of cars and buses pulling in and out every day.
By the time the summer holidays are over, we will have made the most of every day to ensure that our schools are in pristine condition ready for the arrival of more than 2,000 pupils in September.
Picture: Sports pitches are seeded ready for the new term