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University and school maintenance and repair

There may be discord between Michael Gove and the teaching unions over changes to the curriculum priorities, and even over the appointment of a new head for Ofsted, but for all the banner headlines about cuts in education spending when the Coalition took over Government, the number of construction projects continuing across the sector is still a major source of work for big building contractors, including Plastic Surgeon.

In fact the national cosmetic repair specialist is regularly involved in work as diverse as helping clients like Morgan Sindall and Unite complete the handover of a new primary school, or bringing a student hall of residence back up to scratch during the vacation.

It is a sector where Plastic Surgeon seems set to continue its involvement when you learn local authorities in England are to share in an additional £2.35bn of capital funding over three years to help them create the extra school places that will be needed by 2017. Making the announcement in December, Education Secretary Michael Gove confirmed: “Extending the allocations to a three-year period will allow local authorities to plan strategically for the places they need.

Then looking to further education, Sheffield University is one of many gaining funding for extensive work with its student union building undergoing a £20 million refurbishment; while Interserve will start on site in April on the University of Birmingham’s new £55m sports centre.

However, whether we are talking about a multi-million pound capital works project or an on-going facilities management contract, the finance will always be an issue. As Rob Mouser, the Managing Director for Plastic Surgeon,explains: “There are of course, massive cost influences on anything state and education related. Budgets come under close scrutiny from Government and ratepayers as well as bodies like boards of governors.

“The more flamboyant, architect led schemes seen under the Schools for the Future programme have mainly ended, and the spend is now more focussed on value. We are often being awarded work because our Finishers can repair damaged surfaces and fixtures, at an affordable cost, or perhaps where it wasn’t possible to obtain a replacement item.”

A prime example of the latter was Bitterne Park Sixth Form College in Southampton where a large number of the exterior wooden cladding panels had been damaged through the carelessness of other sub-contractors.

More worrying still for the project team was the fact that the European cladding manufacturer had ceased trading, making repair the only option. An order for 60 hours work by a team of Plastic Surgeon’s Finishers saw the appearance of the cladding transformed, with all the dents, scratches and other damage restored, and the school opened its doors to pupils on time.

Managing Director, Rob Mouser comments: “We have found with education projects, particularly schools that clients and their architectural consultants like to use a lot of bright and strong primary colours, with window and doorsets that are non-standard. This can present them with serious challenges in terms of finish and also replacement costs when damage occurs on site during the build process.

“Fortunately our Finishers are well trained in repairing all types of windows, featuring the whole spectrum of surface finishes from raw galvanised steel frames, through factory painted timber, to foils and polyester powder coatings. We can even offer glass polishing to ensure sealed units do not have to be replaced.

“Inside and outside of the building, Plastic Surgeon has the skillset to save clients time and money with its school maintenance and repair service, compared to the alternative of replacement. This also makes our service far more sustainable, which when most education projects are now being built to meet the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ standard, should be a very strong argument for repair.”

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