The pandemic added extra challenges to this complex 3-stage new build. We agreed COVID-19 protocols with Openreach and Wates to meet safely at the school site during lockdown and delivered on time, making both constructors and the school happy with their additional requests during the project.
Department for Education
The Building Contractor
Langley Grammar School, Reddington Drive, Langley, Slough SL3 7QS
1,200, 11-18 year old pupils
Capital programme / Managed Service
Phased project: May 2018 to Sept 2021
Project value: £360k
Project overview: Complex new build in three phases
Delivered through the Priority Schools Building Programme, this complex, 3-phased new-build and refurbishment project included the installation of Active ICT (new core infrastructure, edge switches and whole school wireless solution, for: teaching and learning, telephony, visitor management and CCTV) plus decant of legacy ICT equipment as follows:
New teaching block (science, computing, art and design technology), completed February 2020
Temporary accommodation across two buildings, including: dining room, library and administration offices; and separately: Reception, offices and staff workroom, all from March 2020
New ‘front of house’ block, including: Reception, meeting rooms, administration and staff offices, dining room and kitchen, dance studio, library and sixth form study area, with an August 2021 completion date
Nexus Associates worked in partnership with Wates Construction, as part of an integrated team, to deliver this Department for Education (DfE) funded project.
Delivering a complex project during the COVID pandemic
Partnering to develop the design solution
Nexus worked alongside Wates Construction to deliver this £360k project, including ICT infrastructure for temporary and new buildings. From project inception, as Wates ICT Consultant, our project manager, Steve Hughes, attended all ICT-appropriate client engagement meetings with the DfE and school; to develop a compliant design and ensure all necessary consideration at an early stage. Engaged in May 2018, we worked effectively with Wates to support contract signature by January 2019.
Working collaboratively with the Department for Education
With a sound understanding of the DfE’s Output Specification, Nexus worked alongside Wates Construction (as their ICT Consultant) through a programme of 6 client engagement meetings, to design a compliant ICT solution. our project manager, Steve Hughes, working collaboratively with the DfE’s ICT advisor, Mark Hughes, ensured the final design submission met all requirements and gained approval.
Working as part of an integrated team with Wates Construction and their partners (including Furniture, Fixtures and Equipment (FF&E)), Nexus attended the programme of Client Engagement Meetings (CEMs) with the school and DfE ICT Advisor, Mark Hughes. Our Technical Architect, Peter Killoran, with an excellent understanding of the DfE’s Output Specification, developed the design solution, with consideration for the FF&E. Our Project Manager, Steve Hughes, presented this at the CAMs and led all ICT discussions through the clarifications process, to gain final approval.
Managing School and DfE expectations
With an understanding of the DfE’s small power allocations, our Technical Architect, Peter Killoran, made provision for the power and data points based on pupil numbers. Outside the client engagement meetings, the school requested a further 200 points. When brought to the attention of our Project Manager, Steve Hughes, he advised that the budget would not allow for the additional number. Steve led a collaborative meeting with the DfE and school, resulting in the inclusion of an additional 100 points with the cost covered separately by the school.
Managing the budget
With a sound understanding of the DfE’s Output Specification, through early engagement we designed the solution to meet the budget, presenting the detail in our Cost Matrix. Working closely with Wates, we were aware of the budget allocation for the Passive ICT and so were able to ensure our Active ICT solution did not exceed the remaining allowance. Our cost-effective solution was approved with no challenge from the DfE.
Effective change management
The existing telephony solution was situated in one of the older buildings. Still fit-for-purpose, Nexus was tasked with moving this to the new building. There were 5 separate telephone lines to the old building and only 3 were budgeted for in the new. However, through liaison with the phone provider, we established that the remaining 2 lines supported passenger lifts in the original buildings and so were required throughout the works. We worked with Openreach to establish the additional cost of £5k to move them with the phone system. As this was not part of the original Scope of Works, our Project Manager, Steve Hughes, implemented the Change Management process with the school agreeing to take responsibility for the additional cost.
Overcoming broadband challenges
The school managed the relationship with the broadband provider, Virgin Media, agreeing on the installation of the service to the temporary accommodation and the requirement for a service in the new building. With confusion over the responsibility between Wates and the School, only too late it was established that the broadband would not be available in the new building as required. Our Technical Architect, Peter Killoran, developed a temporary design to connect broadband for the new building to that in the old, running through the existing building. This resulted in no interruption to the service and full connectivity from Day 1 in the new building.
Managing the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic
With a last minute need to establish a new broadband connection to the new building from the existing, we needed to meet with Openreach on-site during the COVID-19 pandemic. Prior to the meeting, we agreed with Openreach and Wates on their COVID-19 protocols and developed a plan to meet safely at the school. We implemented the processes and procedures for what would have been a simple task, but was now a protracted all-day meeting, to ensure a secure broadband service was connected to the new building from Day 1.
Working flexibly to deliver to agreed quality and programme
As the project progressed through delivery, we worked with Wates to ensure we maintained the programme. With an integrated schedule, our Project Manager, Steve Hughes, oversaw the installation of the data cabling, to enable us to meet the milestone of server room handover. Working with the M&E installer, Steve, carried out spot checks as the cables were laid, with a final quality check on completion before Nexus carried out tasks to install the Active ICT. Through the early stages, Steve established that the cabling installers were behind programme. Having raised this with Wates, to address the shortfall he also reallocated Nexus resources for weekend working, to ensure handover for the Monday morning deadline was still achieved.
Experienced project management with effective communication
Our Project Manager, Steve Hughes, worked closely with the school’s ICT Manager, Tara McBride. During delivery, Steve met with Tara daily to discuss the work completed and the plans for each day. He also presented email updates confirming status and next actions. Having established a good relationship with Tara, Nexus and the school worked collaboratively to ensure all deadlines were met with no interruption to the service across a complex site.
The decant process was started with the school 6 months before the process was required to be completed. This was carried out by specific Client Engagement Meetings with the school, Wates and the DfE; to agree the dates, numbers of equipment, new locations for the equipment and final sign-off to confirm work complete.
This school is an ICT specialist and has many computer suites that are fully populated and were to be moved into the new building. The school also decided to replace a significant number of their existing PCs with new equipment, just before the decant was to happen. Despite this, with the assistance of the school and careful planning, Nexus was able to move all the ICT equipment during the decant window as agreed in the Wates project programme. Notably, as the school and Wates agreed to move during a half term break, the normal 10 working days to decant the ICT was reduced to 7. Despite this, by working flexible hours and providing extra resource Nexus was able to move and test all of the ICT equipment ready for final sign-off on the planned date.
“I enjoyed an excellent working partnership with Steve Hughes (Nexus) on a large and complex school rebuild project, which involved merging both old and new ICT infrastructure while minimising disruption to teaching and learning.Tara McBrideSchool ICT Manager, Langley Grammar School
Steve and his team frequently went above and beyond to ensure solutions were fit for purpose and to deadline. Our overall experience of the Nexus team was of prompt communication, knowledgeable, flexible, and always supportive.”