Safety at Harrogate Grammar School

Harrogate Grammar School’s pupil roll had steadily increased over the last five years to meet the significant local demand for school places. The school and local authority were keen to increase classroom space, create a central focal point, and find an innovative solution to the flow of pupils around the buildings.

The school is managed by the Red Kite Learning Trust, and in partnership with North Yorkshire County Council, they commissioned Faithful+Gould to provide professional estates services, via the Pagabo framework.

Following consideration of several options, the school decided on a two-storey courtyard infill extension, creating three new classrooms, and an atrium entrance to help overcome the congestion issues. Sewell Construction was appointed as principal contractor and works began in January 2020 and were underway when the Covid-19 lockdown was enforced on March 23rd.

Prevention Measures for Managing COVID-19 Risks

We initially suspended works, safely closing the site whilst awaiting government guidance relating to construction projects. The school, in the meantime, was to remain open throughout the lockdown, for children of key workers and vulnerable children.

During this unprecedented time, our team worked remotely, liaising closely with Red Kite Learning Trust and Faithful & Gould, to agree on solutions for safely re-mobilising the project. A collaborative plan was drawn up, with commitment and cooperation from all supply chain members. Availability of subcontractors and procurement of materials were re-examined, to ensure the project could confidently continue.

Longstanding, largely local relationships between consultants, contractor and the supply chain were very helpful—25 per cent of the project value has been procured within Harrogate and the neighbouring community, and 95 per cent of the order value placed to date is within the Yorkshire region.

Safety measures were outlined by the Principal Designer, in conjunction with our Safety, Environment and Compliance team, and in compliance with the emerging Construction Leadership Council site operating procedures guidance. The plan also took account of the presence of staff and pupils in the school, to ensure that their health and safety was not compromised by the ongoing construction works.

Following three weeks’ closure, site works resumed at Harrogate Grammar School, based on a re-calibrated initial six-week programme to recommence work on the main superstructure elements of the build. Site safety measures included only essential personnel to be present on-site; operative transport plan; revised site access; safety induction of operatives; hand hygiene measures, site facilities cleaning arrangements; staggered shifts and breaks; food/drinks plan; avoidance of close working, and maintaining distance where possible.

When the steel frame was successfully installed, the school community joined the site team, at a safe distance, to celebrate the project and commemorate the pandemic times by adding their messages and signatures to the steel frame. This will become part of the school’s history, a poignant reminder of the events of 2020.