ppp header

Bristol BSF

Category: Schools

..the one school with the strongest and most extended community engagement is Hartcliffe campus where we are building nursery, primary, secondary and special schools as well as a vocational centre. The original idea for a campus came from local people and it's been something they've been wanting for many years. When Building Schools for the Future came along they were able to realise that aspiration.

Gordon Clements, BSF Project Director, at Bristol City Council

July, 2008

The Bristol BSF project involves the rebuilding of secondary schools and other educational facilities in 4 locations in the Bristol area. It is a pathfinder project in the Building Schools for the Future (BSF) programme and has a capital value of £110m. One of the schools, Bristol Brunel Academy, when it opened its doors in September 2007, became the UK's first operational BSF school.  Now with academy status, the school is built for the future; the whole site is a wi-fi zone and it features independent learning areas and uses biomass boilers to provide about 80% of its energy.  The construction of the remaining schools is progressing on schedule with the final school, Hartcliffe Education Campus, due to open in January 2009.  This project followed on from a previous successful PFI schools project in the Bristol area which was fully operational in 2006.

How has the construction process been?

I think, generally speaking, it's gone very well.  People who are in the construction industry have been complimentary about the way Skanska has managed its sites.  They appear to be clean, well organised and committed to environmental issues which I think is very good. We're pleased, we think the construction side is strong. 

Also we have been impressed with the way in which the architects have developed the designs and progressed them with the construction contractor. Also our own technical advisors have done a super job. 

What is the relationship with Skanska like?

 It's good.  One is always a little cautious but it's a good working relationship.

What engagement did you have from the schools and the local community during the design process?

Head teachers, senior colleagues and governors from the schools were very closely involved. In some cases, I think head teachers should be encouraged to get a little less involved and to nominate a colleague who might be able to do much more of the work. Each school was designed individually; we've not gone with a standard design or a standard product. For example, we've recognised that schools have different specialisms, such as business and enterprise in the case of Brislington Enterprise College, and we've taken that in to account in the design. In summary we worked very closely with head teachers, and involved them a great deal.

Also at each school we have involved neighbours, local people, parents and students. But the one school with the strongest and most extended community engagement is Hartcliffe campus where we are building nursery, primary, secondary and special schools as well as a vocational centre. The original idea for a campus came from local people and it's been something they've been wanting for many years. When Building Schools for the Future came along they were able to realise that aspiration. 

If it weren't for PFI would Hartcliffe be being built?

No.  Without the significant funding that comes through Building Schools for the Future there's just no way we would have got to replacing that school. Resources just wouldn't have been available.

Throughout the whole PFI process has there been a steep learning curve?

 Yes and I am still on it. To try and go into this sort of procurement process without the PFI experience that our group had would have been crazy. If we hadn't had that prior PFI experience we wouldn't have accomplished what we did in the timeframe that we did. I think we were very fortunate in that we had several key people within the local authority who had just gone through many of the same issues with the previous PFI schools project in Bristol.

 What effect do you envisage the PFI will have on teacher recruitment?

When people come out of university looking for their first post in teaching it can be disappointing for them to see old school buildings and outdated facilities that they're going to have to work with.  However with our new schools I think teachers will realise they can deliver something really exciting with all the resources that are available to them. Consequently we're confident that we will be able to improve recruitment and retention levels amongst the teaching staff.

What's your opinion on having a 25-30 year contract?

Either you accept it and work with it or, alternatively, you don't and you consequently don't get the funding you need. Of course there are concerns but the upside is that the schools are a well looked after and managed resource, as long as the local authority client team is a strong one, as long as people know and understand the contract,  and as long as they work with the contractor to make sure they deliver.

Is there anything else you would like to mention?

As we roll forward with more PFI projects I think it is very important that the interface with ICT is managed successfully and that the ICT partners are involved at an early stage. 

 

 

July 2008

< back