Robertson construction of school in Yorkshire

Goldthorpe Primary School


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£4.3 million
NPS Group
June 2016
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First-class community engagement

Robertson was appointed to design and build a new primary school for 3–11 year old pupils in Goldthorpe, for NPS Group, who were delivering the project for Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council in South Yorkshire.

The scheme was a 330-place, 11-classroom school, with a nursery for 26 places, and the ability to add three classrooms catering for 90 places in future. It comprised a new steel-framed building on a brownfield site close to the existing school. During construction, the site team pulled out all the stops to bring lasting value to the community.

 Goldthorpe Primary School frontage
"The Considerate Constructors Scheme provides a series of benchmarks that are above the average building site operational standards. When these benchmarks are met, or bettered, the entire community benefits."
Gordon Fawcett
Project Manager

Making a difference in a challenging neighbourhood

Goldthorpe is an ex-mining community with a high level of unemployment. The former miners had little or no schooling, which has filtered down to the younger generations, resulting in higher than average levels of illiteracy in the town.

Poverty is also a major issue for the neighbourhood, with around 20% of the students at Goldthorpe Primary School previously going to school without breakfast – until the school and our team stepped in to help. Keen to address this problem and make sure the children could concentrate on learning, school staff came into work early and fed around 50 students every day. This was supported by our site team, who raised funds for food through their 'Give a breakfast for the Breakfast Club' initiative, even helping to serve the food. This approach, among other incentives, has helped to deliver the best-performing school in the area.

Gordon said: "Every site operative donated the cost of a breakfast sandwich to the funds and, with the assistance of local shopkeepers, we managed to supply enough food to the school to provide breakfast for the students for four weeks."

Here are some of the team's other notable community successes:Weekly site visits were arranged for the children, and these included taking turns on the 'big digger'.

  • Project Manager Gordon Fawcett and his team attended the school on a regular basis, giving presentations on the various aspects of the build to tie in with the curriculum, which has been modified to include the building process.
  • Numerous materials and man-hours have been given to the school in order to help with both the curriculum and the enhancement of school facilities.
  • A trip was organised for the children to visit a steel fabrication company 35 miles away, where the frame for the building was being produced.
  • A local community build programme was introduced to encourage youngsters into the industry, with the site adapting its operations to enable the young people to experience real work situations. As an example: at the training centre only cold tarmac demonstrations could be made, whereas on site they were given the opportunity to work with hot-lay tarmac. Similarly, laying curbs on concrete rather than on sand gave them a better feel for the work.
  • Robertson introduced incentives to purchase goods from the retailers in the area, to benefit the local economy. This included entering every receipt from a local shop into a prize draw.
  • On 'Earth Day', 23 students and four staff attended site and, with the assistance of site management, planted 23 edible hedge plants in advance of the school being handed over.

Commenting on benefits to the wider community, Gordon said: "We strive to use local workforce wherever possible. The biggest obstacle to them being employed is the lack of reading and writing ability."

Despite these hurdles, the site employed a total of 49 local workers during the project including six scaffolders, four bricklayers, one joiner, two labourers, five security operatives and the office cleaner.

Explaining how the project team incorporated the requirements of the Considerate Constructors Scheme into its working practices, Gordon said: "The Scheme is included in the site induction, and we hand out the Construction Work in your Area flyer to all operatives. CCS posters are in the canteen and meeting rooms, and we include it as a Key Performance Indicator for our local authority client. We include feedback forms on the regular community bulletins we issue to all local residents, and we post the banners and contact details on the outside of the hoardings."

Award-winning, innovative community engagement

Robertson Yorkshire & East Midlands was commended by the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS) for its exceptional community engagement while constructing the new school.

Summing up the team's innovation, the CCS Monitor said "...the sheer scale of the total engagement with the school and the community has to be considered innovative."

Robertson Community Development Manager Jane Braybrook said: "The input of the head teacher and the presentation given to the Monitor by the pupils really made a difference. They also have a huge display of drawings and photographs throughout the school hall, which were all donated by the site and really illustrated how much of an insight the children have got into the industry."

The project was highly commended in the Community Benefit category at the RICS North Yorkshire & Humber awards.