Surrey County Council identified a shortfall in primary school places across the county as a result of an increased demand for places for reception age children. This demand appears to have been influenced by the movement of pupils out of private sector into state schools as a result of the credit crunch. Schools throughout the county urgently needed to create 390 new places to make up the shortfall. Time was a critical factor, since the buildings had to be in place before the start of the new school year.Solution :
Bill Christie, Senior Project Manager (Strategic) at Surrey County Council, says: “The short time available to us meant that modular buildings were the most realistic solution. We used the OGC Buying Solutions route to speed up the procurement process and avoid lengthy tendering exercises. As a Buying Solutions approved supplier, Portakabin was top of our list because of its reputation as a leader in the field of education buildings provision. I was familiar with their buildings too, so I knew they could provide the quality of classrooms we needed.”
Avoided drawn-out tender process
Buying Solutions is a public-sector procurement agency that carries out thorough, independent checks on suppliers, assuring public sector buyers that those on its approved list offer excellent quality and value for money. Public-sector organisations can cut out time-consuming tender processes by choosing approved suppliers from the Buying Solutions list.
After meeting the council to understand its precise requirements, Portakabin proposed a range of buildings to provide the spacious classroom accommodation needed at 13 schools across the county. This accommodation included five single classroom buildings, seven double classroom blocks and one four-classroom building.
Complete turn-key solution
As well as supplying these large, high-quality and well-insulated modular buildings, Portakabin provided a complete turn-key package for the council, giving them a single point of contact to simplify the whole project. That meant Portakabin took charge of everything, from planning permission applications and groundworks at each site to installation and service connections, as well as fitting the classrooms out with heating and air-conditioning systems.
Portakabin planned to get all of these classrooms in place during the summer holidays, to avoid disrupting pupils during term time. Getting all of the buildings installed on time required a phased delivery programme, necessitating detailed planning and complex logistics – all of which Portakabin managed on behalf of the council.
Bill says: “Portakabin were very responsive throughout the project and kept us well informed through regular meetings. During the installation phase we met almost weekly to get an update on progress and tackle any issues as they arose. This regular contact enabled us to build up an excellent working relationship with Portakabin and was crucial in getting the classrooms delivered on time. In the end, all the buildings were installed and fitted out at all 13 schools in time for the start of term.”
Portakabin has a unique Customer Charter, which assures all customers that their buildings will be delivered on time and on budget. Portakabin even promises that if it ever fails to meet this commitment it will provide an additional 12 months product warranty, free of charge.*
Bill adds: “The quality of the classrooms is excellent. After some initial reservations from the schools, they were all – without exception – delighted with their new facilities. We were very happy with the standard of the buildings, which had high ceilings and an airy, spacious feel within. The heating and air-conditioning systems we fitted also ensure that the buildings remain comfortable all year round, giving teachers full control of the temperature within their classrooms.
“Portakabin very successfully executed and delivered this major project for the council, which created essential new school places for children in the county.”
* Terms and Conditions apply. A copy is available on request.