March 2013

The know zone

  • Level heads
    The courts may have their work cut out coming to terms with the complexities of legal agreements regarding academies. Richard Bird investigates... More
  • Fiscal focus
    In tempestuous  nancial times, it pays to focus on a few, pragmatic aims while the storm of cuts, initiatives and other upheavals rages on, says Sam Ellis. More
  • A golden opportunity?
    Of all the issues facing schools and colleges, accountability continues to be the thorniest and least understood by government, says Brian Lightman. More
  • Lead vocals
    Quotes from Robert Jarvik, Tom Peters, Thomas Edison, Ken Blanchard and Robert Allen More
  • Reviewing the Situation
    As Fagin contemplated his future in Oliver! he wondered how he might ‘win friends and influence people’. Today’s school leaders will recognise some similar dilemmas. More
  • A baptism of fire
    Linda Rodham became head of Wellfi eld Community School in Wingate, County Durham in January 2012 and found herself under pressure from the word go. More
  • Degrees of separation
    Do you welcome the government’s proposal requiring new teachers to have at least a 2.2 degree, or do you think it could restrict who enters the profession and that it could have an adverse effect on future teacher numbers? Here, leaders share their views. More
  • Simply Brilliant!
    The Brilliant Club widens access to top universities for outstanding students from non-selective state schools. More
  • Adding value
    Headaches, often associated with stress, are suffered by us all at one time. Usually characterised by a constant ache on one or both sides of the head, mostly, they are benign, and more simply irritating and disruptive to our daily life. However, when a headache persists, or is accompanied by other symptoms, you should seek the advice of a GP. More
  • Leaders' surgery
    The antidote to common leadership conundrums... More
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Leaders' surgery

The antidote to common leadership conundrums...

Building procurement

Q My School has never procured building maintenance or development work before - do you have any advice?

A The precursors of good procurement are a good design, a detailed bill of quantities, appropriate health and safety considerations, insurances and a well-drawn up contract. Here are a few tips to help you:

Set the scene
Be clear and resolute about the function of your buildings. The oversight of common areas, the use of circulation spaces and the size and flexibility of teaching and learning spaces are all functions that your expertise should help to determine.

Manage your staff
Staff may need your authority and presence to confidently interrogate costs and designs and to ask ‘the silly question’. Most importantly, your recognition of the amount of time and energy needed to manage building projects successfully will encourage them not to let any details pass by unchallenged.

Manage the architect
Choose an architect who can mix design  air with the ability to listen carefully to what you need from the building project. Develop a good working relationship and ensure the same person you meet at the outset will lead the process from start to finish, will visit frequently and will respond promptly to your communications.

Make sure that the architect has done similar work, has experience of tailoring design to a fixed budget and readily accepts that buildings need to be flexible in order to accommodate an ever-changing educational agenda.

Manage the contractor
Choose a contractor who can drive good deals with suppliers and subcontractors, with the capacity to deliver the project even when there are hiccups. Good reputation, good references and a sound  nancial position are needed, but site management is important, too. Choose a contractor who will bring an experienced, capable and good communicator as site manager. Regular meetings with timely financial and project progress information, clearly minuted decisions and a bar on any additional works except when authorised through architects’ instructions are essential to keeping a project on schedule and to budget. Let the contractor know that these are your expectations.

Use your network
Knowledge of excellent suppliers of professional services and construction is widely held, and almost certainly locally. Gaining advice from the experience of others and visiting schools and colleges to see the work done are the next steps for a first-time buyer. Pick up tips from colleagues to save time and cost in the long run.