Simon Cook is a pre-construction & framework manager within our Regional Building Western & Wales business. Here, Simon outlines our work within the education sector in the south of Wales, the new buildings and facilities we have delivered and the enduring legacies we are committed to leaving in areas in which we build.  

“Over the last five years, we have helped provide 9,000 pupil places across the south of Wales by delivering a mix of new buildings and refurbishment projects across primary and secondary schools as well as tertiary establishments.

In line with the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools programme these projects have not only helped to facilitate much-needed new spaces for schoolchildren, but it has also created learning environments to help pupils thrive.

Working collaboratively with our clients, architects, supply chain partners and also, and fundamentally, the occupants – teachers and pupils – we have worked hard to ensure we have constructed spaces which are modern, vibrant, full of light and meet the modern day needs of a school environment.

Take, Croesyceiliog Comprehensive School. In 2018 we were appointed by Torfaen County Borough Council to deliver a new £30m three-storey building with state-of-the-art facilities, including spacious classrooms, a double-height assembly hall, drama and learning resource centre as well as musical practice spaces, with a recording studio.  Throughout the duration of this project, we liaised with the headteacher as well as pupils at the schools and had ambassadors who would regularly review progress, report back to the wider school population and also make recommendations as to what we could do to further enhance the environment for others.

Over the two years we were on site, we carried out a school’s engagement programme, dedicating 2,750 hours to students at Croesyceiliog. What’s more, we engaged with the local community for nearly 2,000 hours as this school was set to be a focal point of the community, we wanted to make sure local residents knew about this project every step of the way. In January of this year, the Welsh Government's Minister for Education, Kirsty Williams, officially opened the building calling it a ‘school that pupils and staff can be truly proud of.’

The Welsh Government and councils across the South of Wales remain committed to the 21st century schools programme, which is now into the next phase (B). We are currently working collaboratively with Swansea Council delivering four educational projects, including Bishopston school, a Pupil Referral Unit, Tan Y Lan Primary school and Ysgol Gyfun Gwyr. We are also delivering another primary school for Torfaen County Borough Council and we have recently been appointed by Swansea University to deliver a new £30m research facility with the view to bolstering the growth of the semiconductor industry in the UK.

All of what we do is only possible as a result of the skilled teams we and our supply chain have. As one of the leading regional builders in Wales, we take the time to regular engage with local suppliers and as a result of COVID-19, we have hosted Meet the Buyer events online. Our supply chain is an extension of our team and so we are committed to sharing best practice and providing training opportunities.

On our projects in Wales, approximately 65% of our supply chain work within a 40-mile radius of their home. This is something we are extremely proud of –supporting local people and local economies and nurturing local talent, and through our current educational projects, we have created 187 jobs and 354  training opportunities in the past five years.

Welsh Government has been clear on its social, cultural, environmental and economic ambitions through the Well-being of Future Generations Act, it’s about creating a legacy we can all be proud of. And for us, that is what is all about. It’s about building sustainably, providing vital new educational infrastructure and delivering for communities before, during and after our works have been completed."