Situated in the Borough of Harrow, Salvatorian College is an Academy for boys aged between 11-16 years old. Originally founded in 1926 by Brothers of the Society of the Divine Saviour (the Salvatorians), the school is benefitting from a redevelopment, as part of the DfE’s Priority Schools Building Programme. These works signal an important new chapter in the school’s history, with it being demolished to make way for brand-new educational facilities.
Here, our senior project manager, Alqab Hussain, explains how we are delivering the project in two phases enabling both the school and the church to remain operational.
“Salvatorian College is a secondary Catholic boy’s school in Harrow. It is steeped in history and a focal point of the local community.
Kier was appointed to expand it from a 5-form entry to a 6-form entry school enabling an increase in capacity from 550 to 900 pupils in 2017.
The project footprint is set in a challenging environment. It is a live site and at times has been bustling with pupils. What’s more, the site is surrounded by a church, the local high street, a girl’s school opposite and residential housing on three sides. Working in a live school environment does have its challenges, but it is also an incredible experience. We can see first-hand how much the new facilities benefit its occupants and we’ve also had the chance to tell and showcase to the pupils and teachers our high standards in quality.
The project has been split into two phases, The first phase started back in June 2017, where we needed to refurbish the school and make it ready for a change in use before we undertook the main demolition. We then undertook the demolition and then construction of two new teaching blocks and a large auditorium which was completed in August 2019. During this phase the team discovered an old WW2 air raid bunker – it was a fascinating find and to support the careful excavation of the bunker, we involved a local museum.
The second phase of works included an extension to the teaching blocks, doubling the capacity to the north block along with a sports hall, a car park and extensive landscaping to the front. The majority of this work has been delivered since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant we adapted our ways of working, following all Government guidance and working to our Site Operating Procedures.
A key aspect to this project has really been about anticipating and managing any issues and risks before they arise. We ensured that all planning and sequencing was agreed in advance or promptly adapted to suit, giving enough time to ensure the smooth running of the school and the church operations. My background is in civil engineering, with notable projects such as the Jubilee Line and Copenhagen Metro undergrounds alongside numerous commercial building projects in busy built up areas with our London business. I have recently delivered some large-scale, hospital, airport and high rise hotel projects in the Middle East. I believe this experience has benefitted this project, by being able to simplify the complexity of sequencing the works so that it suits all stakeholders along with bringing efficient engineering solutions to the ground and temporary works structures, I believe it is important to get groundworks right to reduce all manner of risks which sets the cornerstone for a successful project.
As a result, we are on schedule to handover the school this spring and the last car park and landscaping phase in the summer.
Our relationships with the local community have been critical to the success of this project and we have made sure that we have regularly communicated with residents, the St Joseph’s Church and the wider local community. Our communication has been via newsletters, personal contact (before the outbreak of COVID-19) and community notice boards.
We have built an excellent relationship with the school and the church to promote co-operation and agree how we would work through each of the construction phases. We have timed our works around exams, church services and funerals to ensure we have been as respectful as possible. Our site accommodation is in the same building as the Priests’ Housing and we often help them with odd jobs around the church along with participating in most of their charitable events. Each month the Church bakes us cakes, its’ a kind and personal gesture which is enjoyed by both staff and the whole workforce.
Of many of the different social value activities we have been involved in, I have enjoyed mentoring junior staff and we have been involved with career talks and assemblies with the school. The impact of the presentation given by George O’Mahony, who joined the team as an apprentice site manager and who was an ex-Salvatorian pupil, was a wonderful refection of his progress. It was great to see him standing up in front of so many pupils to talk about his experiences with Kier and his first year on site and the pupils really engaged with that. This prompted me to add a civil engineering based career talk with the pupils to show the breadth of career opportunities there are in the built environment and the skills that can be harnessed.
In November 2020 we achieved a silver Award through the Considerate Constructor Scheme (CCS) which recognised not only how we look after our workforce, but also how well we have worked with the local community.
Finally, this project’s success has really been down everyone working together with a focus on Kier values. Providing a supportive and caring working environment is crucial to the success of a project. Together we ensured everyone has been respected, treated fairly, and empowered to improve their skills base through personal development needs and appropriate training and mentoring.
It has been a privilege working on this project, liaising with the teaching staff, pupils and church and along with whole team, all of us being united in our aim of creating a bigger school with modern facilities – I am looking forward to handing over this project to the highest standards and for the school to start to using these first-class facilities we have built at Salvatorian College.”
“I write on behalf of the Governors and Executive of Salvatorian College to thank your team working on the Salvatorian College (PSBP) build.
“On what has been a long, complex, and at times trying, build, they have been diligent and attentive to our needs, often going beyond the call of duty to ensure the interests of the school were catered for.
“We are delighted with the first phase of the building, which we occupied in 2019. We look forward to the handover of the remainder of the building in Spring and Summer 2021.”
Ben Fowler, School Business Manager, Salvatorian College