The implementation stage is similarly difficult for us to define in detail, since it was again both outside the scope of the direct Space for Personalised Learning project, and heavily dependent on the type of project. The implementation of a new build Academy will be very different to the fit out of a new free school in a retail space, or the fit out of one individual learning space.
This stage is carried out by contractors, who may be anything from a small local firm to a large multinational.
We asked for feedback from our pilot schools on this stage of the process. Some of them said that choosing a local contractor, ideally one you already have a relationship with, is crucial. Others found that contractors that discovered they were in a preferred position did not always offer the best value for money, and that running a procurement exercise provided the school with better options.
It is important that there is close and constant communication between the school, the architect, and the contractor. Any changes that occur to the scheme at this stage need to be understood and signed off by all three parties to ensure it is correct and will deliver a good solution.
With any time of remodelling solution, or even major works on the current site, decanting (moving out of the occupied spaces) will be important. In a small scale project, such as the transformation of a dining space, hall space or library space, this will still involve moving out all equipment, which requires logistics and planning by the school.
This makes timing of implementation a key concern. Utilisation of school space is normally very high, so taking even small spaces out of use during term times can be problematic, more so when it is a key social space such as the hall, dining hall or library. In our pilots, nearly all small scale works were scheduled during one or several school holidays. This made schedules for the design phase often very tight.
In larger schemes, decants may be unavoidable during term time, requiring the provision of alternative accommodation or clever management of existing facilities.
The priorities for all involved will be avoiding as much disruption as possible to the learning experience, but some disruption is unavoidable.
At the end of the Implementation stage, the contractor will begin to hand over the new spaces or building back to the school, and the snagging phase will begin. This is where the school checks the finished design for any defects, reports back and gets the defects fixed. No matter how good the contractor, snagging is almost always necessary, and in large schemes snagging can take a while to get finalised.