Robertson construction of school in Hetton

Hetton Primary School, Sunderland


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Sunderland City Council
June 2023
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Construction of a new primary school for children in Sunderland

Robertson constructed a new two-storey primary school to give young people in Hetton the best possible start to education.

The project involved building a new single and part two-storey Primary School with associated nursery, external works and car parking, and formation of new grass pitch following demolition of the old school.

Demolition of an old caretakers House and temporary classroom was also necessary, along creation of a new access road, all carried out prior to start on site.



1,000 tonnes

of spare topsoil used


storey primary school

Co-existing on a live site

One of the main challenges of this project was that the school had to remain open throughout the construction project.

The main entrance to the site at Hetton primary school was a shared access throughout the project, used by both the school, parents, pupils and Robertson Construction.

To minimise disruption and maximize safety throughout the project, we erected a full site hoarding around the perimeter of the site which securely segregated the new construction site from the live existing school grounds.

The hoarding was also used for safety signage, to alert the public and school to activities on site.

We agreed set delivery and access times to and from site with the school to ensure no construction traffic was present at the shared entrance over the peak times.

We also employed a full-time gateman who controlled the main access onto the site throughout the day to safeguard the school from the construction traffic.

Due to the location of the site, control of noise was important. We monitored noise levels on all necessary works and any plant that may have caused noise, was located away from built up areas.

All machinery was fitted with efficient exhausts, silencers, and mufflers and maintained in good condition.

"I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for the school Robertson has built for us. It is quite overwhelming that this amazing building is for 'us' considering the hugely disadvantaged area that our children come from. You will never find a more grateful community who will value every single inch of the school."
Nicola Hill
Head Teacher

Working with our customer and operating on a live school environment

Communication with local stakeholders was very important on this project as many of the neighbouring residents were parents of the children who attend Hetton Primary School.

The relationship we had with the school and members of the community couldn't have been better. As well as letter drops informing the residents of our construction programme, and the community board on the site hoarding, the project manager was happy to answer any ad-hoc questions asked by stakeholders.

We held weekly meetings with the headteacher to ensure any concerns or queries were dealt with and we were in constant communication with the school staff in advance of all operations.

Sustainable approach to construction

To help reduce wastage from other sites, Sunderland City Council asked if we could use 1000 tonnes of spare topsoil they had which was surplus from another project.

Following all the waste clarifications, permits and tests, we accepted the topsoil and used it to form the new football field.

This helped reduce waste on the other site and meant we did not need to import additional topsoil, reducing material costs and energy consumption.

We also used a BlueRinse concrete washout system which allows the reuse of water and recycling of concrete to avoid hazardous storage and costly accumulation.

Supporting the communities we work in is something we are passionate about.

We carried out a series of activities to help local residents.

Working with our supply chain, we raised £8,000 for new library books at the primary school, which meant the new school would also have a fresh supply of learning materials.

We also organised the installation of a time capsule with the primary school children and our site team and supply chain members partnered up with the primary school to provide donations to the local Food banks.

Spare materials from the site were donated to the primary school to re-use and recycle, making furniture for the playground.

Finally, parent tours were held on weekends to allow early access viewing, address any questions or concerns, and help build excitement ahead of the school opening.