Walter Thompson (Contractors) Ltd’s Linthorpe Community Primary School project

Walter Thompson’s Linthorpe Community Primary School project in Roman Road, Middlesbrough was presented with the Most Considerate Site Award 2016, within the project value category of between £500k and £5m.

A hallmark of Walter Thompson (Contractors) Ltd’s award-winning project was its rapport with the school, educating the pupils about construction and engaging and inspiring a youngster with special needs. A larger than average primary school, Linthorpe Community Primary School is located in the centre of Middlesbrough and has over 600 pupils, mainly from the local area.

The £1.5m project comprised the major phased refurbishment of many areas of the existing live school, including the KS2 ground floor area, reception area, relocation of the ICT Suite, Foundation Stage alterations and formation of a new staircase access.

All included in the project, which spanned 31 weeks, were multiple phases of works being carried out at any one time to ensure the works were completed on time. It also required the construction of a new stand alone, timber-framed nursery building, complete with external works.

Explaining its award-winning achievement, Contracts Manager for Walter Thompson (Contractors) Ltd, Peter Goodburn said:

“Throughout the contract the rapport between our Site Team, in particular site manager Mike Hamm, was exceptional. Mike always found time to spend with the children answering their many questions about the construction process.

“We installed information boards on the site providing staff, pupils and parents with up to date information of the works and a forum for asking and responding to questions.

“Mike was fully aware of the interest the children were showing in the progress, so took the time to create a video display of the works undertaken during the summer holidays, in an effort to ensure they saw the full construction process. Mike also took the time to explain to the pupils some of the more intricate installations including the underfloor heating and PV cells.”

Praising Mike Hamm in a letter, the school’s Executive Headteacher Lynn Longstaff and Head of School, Sarah Lymer said:

“You and your amazing team have made such a difference to the learning environment for our staff and children. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with you. Your calm professionalism and attention to detail ensured the project was well managed.”

Logistical considerations involved ensuring deliveries were organised on an hourly basis during set times from suppliers, as well as cranes for the installation of the timber frame building.

Other hurdles included the installation of a two storey set of precast concrete stairs through a stairwell shaft, and installation of two six-metre lengths of steel to a gable end of a two storey building complete with a design propping system.

A design scaffold with roof was all carefully coordinated to minimise disruption, while enabling the works to be carried out efficiently and economically.

Here are some further examples of best practice initiatives carried out by Walter Thompson (Contractors) Ltd to comply with the Considerate Constructors Scheme:

  • Great pride was taken in our site set up and even though the scheme was of relatively short duration, we installed a full height timber hoarding segregating the working area. Viewing areas were provided allowing the inquisitive pupils to see the progress at all times.
  • Access paths were provided to the site area from the compound area, all of which were installed with disabled users in mind.
  • We delivered regular newsletters to the surrounding residents raising awareness of the project’s progress and notifying them of forthcoming works. We also provided the residents with a direct point of contact to the site manager, should they have any questions or concerns.
  • The project provided job opportunities for the local community and 70% of the workforce on the site was employed from within the local ‘TS’ postcode, with approximately 95% of the total site spend with local contractors within a 20-mile radius of the site.
  • We carried out numerous health and safety presentations and the school was visited by the industry mascot, Ivor Goodsite.
  • Parking and access was a potential issue for the school and, in an effort to alleviate any concerns, we provided staff at the site entrance to monitor all deliveries and visitors to ensure deliveries were directed to the required location as safely and swiftly as possible.
  • We also ensured there was adequate temporary parking so all delivery drivers were able to manoeuvre off the main road and cut their engines to prevent unnecessary noise and pollution.
  • We provided an area of temporary car parking utilising a temporary trackway tile. This solution was adopted over a normal hard core option as it enabled us to install the temporary tiles on the existing grassed area, creating a minimum of impact.
  • Car parking on site was kept to a minimum with all our directly employed operatives being transported to site via crew buses, and all operatives and visitors were encouraged to cycle to site or make use of public transport to minimise vehicles on site.
  • On Remembrance Day, our Site Team came together with the local community and the staff and pupils to remember and honour the fallen service personnel by decorating an area of site fencing with green netting and handmade poppies in our own mark of respect.
  • We were also aware that the existing school choir had a shortage of male members and through discussions with the school, a number of our operatives were happy to join the choir in their Christmas performance and in preparation for an upcoming concert.
  • Following a request from the school, one of our first-year joinery apprentices put his skills to the test and built an ‘inn door’ for use within the school Nativity.
  • One pupil in particular, Sean, was fascinated by the construction works. Sean experiences some learning difficulties in school, and Mike worked closely with the school, going the extra mile to include Sean wherever possible during the construction project. This included counting pipes, blocks and numbers of operatives and understanding what the various pieces of plant do, whilst at the same time, raising Sean’s awareness of the dangers of construction sites. With agreement with the school, Mike provided an area of the site hoarding as “Sean’s Wall” to enable Sean to display information about the project and a number of his posters relating to the scheme. Sean also created a diary of his experiences with the construction project.
  • As recognition of our efforts throughout the project, the school put together a number of short videos thanking us for our time on site which we hope provide evidence that our site team wholly embraced the ethos of working together and making the construction process a positive experience for all involved.
  • Clear, understandable environmental targets, including water and electricity used on site and the carbon footprint, were regularly updated and presented for all operatives and visitors to see.
  • All operatives and visitors attending site are requested to record their means of travelling to the site which enabled the company to record and report on the data as part of the company’s overall carbon footprint calculations.
  • We also worked closely with the designers from Middlesbrough Council to re-engineer a structure and utilise timber-framed instead of traditional masonry construction, to reduce the embodied energy and carbon. As noted earlier, there was an emphasis on operatives cycling to work or using public transport in an effort to minimise environmental pollution.
  • The company had a robust apprenticeship policy in place and throughout the duration of the project apprentice opportunities were given in both the joinery and bricklaying discipline.

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