Back from your Summer holidays? The work never stopped at Loughborough High School

They might be called ‘school holidays’, as the children were off school and teachers enjoyed a well-earned rest from term time. However, the reality is that hundreds of schools across the UK are anything but ‘ghost towns’ over the summer holidays. The lengthy summer break was an opportunity for upkeep and improvements to the grounds and facilities, nowhere more so than at Loughborough High School, part of Loughborough Endowed Schools.

Here in Leicestershire, the behind-the-scenes teams were busier than ever. When the gates shut, we focussed on taking advantage of a quieter campus in advance of the new term.

This summer, over 100 members of staff on the estates team made the most of the empty corridors and quieter sports fields to make sure our facilities are now in top condition for the new academic year.

Summer also brought the chance to tackle larger projects. For example, we’re in the middle of a £8m scheme to rebuild Fairfield Preparatory School, which feeds into Loughborough High School, creating new classrooms and a Kindergarten, a larger gym, a specialist art and craft department, and office spaces, due to open in January 2016.

It would be great to squeeze the development of an entire new block into eight weeks, but unfortunately that just isn’t possible. However, we co-ordinated the most disruptive construction periods to take place when the pupils were not at school. Neither staff nor students would appreciate revision sessions taking place with heavy-duty machinery outside their windows.

School holidays are also opportunities to tackle between 70 and 80 maintenance projects, to include painting, alterations, replacement of flooring, deep cleaning, grounds maintenance, tree work, hard and soft landscaping, and renovating sports surfaces.

The estates management team is also responsible for health and safety, which is made significantly easier when the pupils are not in school. For example, to improve security we installed bollards at the entrance of the grounds – a task that just isn’t possible during term time with the arrival of hundreds of cars and buses at the start and end of every day.

It’s tough to juggle the technical aspects of the projects, meeting the expectations of staff, managing budgets, and delivering improvements on time, every time. I sit down with the estates management team on a regular basis throughout the year to ensure careful prioritisation of projects, taking into account manpower, finance and time in order to achieve as much as possible.

So while parents and children enjoyed (or endured) the summer, remember that schools don’t stop over summer. We’re lucky to have a fantastic estates management team, so we can concentrate on making the most of the summer holidays to be perfectly placed to welcome staff and pupils back for the new academic year.

Gwen Byrom, Headmistress at Loughborough High School

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