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LEARNING THE FOUR ‘R’s

LEARNING THE FOUR ‘R’s

Following the press this week, we observed some very mixed messages in the education sector. At the same time the trade magazines were heralding the very upbeat news that close to £1 billion pounds worth of school building projects had been given the go-ahead, the dailies were reporting that one of New Labour’s flagship academies – located on Merseyside – had been forced to close after less than two years. And all of this following on from some very worrying statistics, revealed by a respected European body, charting the UK’s slide down the international league tables in subjects such as maths and science. Expect yet another initiative by Government on the “Three Rs”.

Education, though, remains an important area of construction work and one where Plastic Surgeon has enhanced its reputation as the ‘can do’ specialist in snagging techniques that always sticks to the timetable. In fact we would say that schools need to pay more attention to the “Four Rs” – that is Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic and Repair.

For although education sector projects vary enormously, they all have one aspect in common.  Contracts can run from the continued maintenance on the old Victorian schools still remaining, through the summer holiday rush to complete major renovation contracts – such as window replacement or re-roofing – to the construction of some of the country’s most architecturally imposing structures. Yet in every instance there is a looming deadline for handover, most often the start of the autumn term, which cannot be missed.

As with building work across all the sectors, refurbishing or replacing education buildings involves an amount of attrition – the accidental damage that occurs to components when they are transported, installed, or damaged by subsequent operations in their proximity.

Many contractors and even estates managers have come to value the service offered by Plastic Surgeon as being the most cost effective means of rectifying these problems, with our nationwide teams of finishers being able to bring all types of interior or exterior surfaces up to spec’ in time for handover.

This work regularly involves treating doors, windows, desks, partitions, sanitaryware, cladding panels, masonry, architectural metalwork and other items. All normally being repairable at a fraction of the cost of replacing them.

Timber and laminate surfaces are filled, smoothed and colour matched, while even quite deep scratches in glass can be polished out with a gradation of abrasive pads. Then Plastic Surgeon has well practiced repair techniques for aluminium or steel window frames, while PVC-U profiles of all types can be addressed by exploiting the material’s memory of its original shape.

Further to this our Stone Repair team will blend aggregates with cement and pigments to colour match most types of masonry, while we have also developed a bespoke render coating process for treating minor damage and discolouration in various masonry substrates.

As a postscript, it is worth pointing out that the Liverpool Academy is closing its doors not as a consequence of any physical problem with the building – but instead the desire of local parents to send their children to a single faith school further away. Meanwhile, under the PFI arrangement, the public purse will still be liable to payout millions every year for the full 25 year agreement. And although the billion pound programme of new work is great news for the construction industry, better value for money will have to be offered than was the case before the spending review.

So while staff will be hoping to improve literacy and numeracy amongst students of all ages, those responsible for education infrastructure will be looking at repair as the way to deliver on their financial and logistical targets.