“I don’t know about you, but my school was nothing like this.”
Kier’s Amy Scott is on the money: neither of our schools were anything like what the town of Briton Ferry will be getting in just a few months’ time.
Bright, airy and modern, this £6.3m primary school is well on course to be ready for the next academic year.
The scheme forms one part of Neath Port Talbot Council’s overhaul of several ageing Victorian schools in the area.
Being built on the site of the Cwrt Sart Comprehensive School, the new primary will house 420 pupils while an accompanying nursery setting will have space for 35.
The design-and-build contract will deliver a single-storey school, with its surroundings to feature hard and soft play areas as well as a sports pitch and a multi-use games area.
Kier is nearing the end of a tight 55-week programme, which project manager Mark Poole says has required the contractor to innovate to ensure value for money for the local authority.
With his team having been brought in as early as possible, Mr Poole takes our party through numerous clever measures that have taken weeks off the programme.
Not that Kier’s work has been without its challenges.
As well as the impact of recent horrendous weather, the team has had local heritage to cater for – not least rumours of a medieval longhouse being buried right where an attenuation tank is due to be dug.
Open Doors 2018 Kier Briton Ferry 2
Luckily the use of BIM has helped immeasurably, we’re told, with the predominantly Welsh supply chain buying into the approach. “It’s fantastic to be able to show a client a finished project,” Mr Poole explains to his visitors.
Among them is Jennifer Zecca, a business development adviser at nearby Neath College who is looking to further develop her institution’s relationship with the regional construction sector.
“It’s great to see a project at this stage,” she observes, adding that strong links between industry firms and education providers are now more essential than ever.
As our tour draws towards its end, our tour guides mention how teachers as well as pupils in the area have visited on several occasions, offering their thoughts and feedback – with one teacher even requesting to sign one of the steel beams.
Kier was too accommodating a host to refuse – that beam now standing as just another example of how this project is connecting with the people it will serve.