PSG recently carried out condition surveys of all Shropshire schools on behalf of the Council's Learning Skills department. All the buildings, electrical and mechanical parts were included in the surveys so these were large and comprehensive surveys. This was a challenging task as there are 155 schools in the county and the surveys had to be carried out during term time as well as during the holidays.
All our surveyors have had full DBS (Disclosure and Baring Service) checks which is an essential requirement for working in schools when pupils are present. PSG also insist that all the contractors and their employees on our frameworks have had full DBS checks, this provides reassurance to our school clients that all the people working in schools on behalf of PSG are vetted and the schools comply with Ofsted requirements.
The surveys proved to be a valuable experience for PSG as it gave our surveyors the opportunity to use our new condition survey software on TechForge. A further benefit from the surveys was the opportunity it gave to some of our recent recruits to familiarise themselves with the schools and enhance the service PSG provides.
The surveys highlighted some inconsistencies in the levels of general maintenance being carried out by the schools and some of these maintenance tasks could lead to long term problems developing. Some of the maintenance issues highlighted are the responsibility of the individual schools and many of the surveys highlighted the following:
- Blocked gutters and downpipes were identified in many schools. While this may seem a minor issue it can cause to major problems if they are not cleared; blocked gutters are one of the main causes of water damage to internal walls and ceilings (and all the associated potential damage to electrics and IT). This type of damage can be very costly to repair but an annual programme of clearing gutters can usually prevent this damage and provides a major long term benefit to the school in terms of long term cost savings and reduces the risk of a classroom being out of use due to water damage. PSG can arrange for gutter clearance on behalf of a school if required – the risks associated with working at height cannot be understated and should only be carried out by suitably trained contractors or staff.
- The regular redecoration of wood and metal prevents deterioration and significantly extends the life of the items; this reduces long term expenditure, improves the aesthetics of the school and also reduces the health and safety risks which result from a lack of maintenance. It is worth noting that galvanised and powder coated metal items may require different treatments if they are deteriorating. PSG can advise on this if the required and can arrange for these maintenance items to carried out on behalf of the school.
- Blocked gulleys in school yards can cause localised flooding in the yard and water damage within the building; clearing gulleys regularly will prevent this flooding and damage and can be done easily if carried out on a regular basis. If the debris is allowed to build up it usually requires a contractor to clear both the gulleys and the drains. The damage caused within the building by flooding can often be costly to repair, even if it is not a very deep flood, and can be health and safety hazard which could result in a section of a school being closed. PSG has a framework of contractors to clear gulleys and drains and can arrange this service on behalf of the school.
Regular maintenance of items such as these are essential to prevent significant damage being caused to a building. As part of our SLA agreement, your PSG surveyor can provide site specific advice on the types of regular maintenance a school should be carrying out. For schools not signed up to the SLA please contact PSG to discuss any maintenance advice requirements.