St Bernard's Catholic Grammar School

St Bernard's Catholic Grammar School

Client: St. Bernard’s Catholic Grammar School

Date: 13-weeks starting in 2017 (previous 10-year external painting programme)

Scope: Full internal and external painting process, through design/colour scheme consultation to the decorative works themselves

Contract value: £112,000


Overview and notable successes

Maintaining over 50 schools annually, we were well placed to service St Bernard’s due to our understanding of the education sector’s demands. Additionally, our specialist knowledge of anti-mould paint and hygienic coatings allowed us to deliver service in a way that would provide longevity and thus a cost-saving to the client. Work included internal and external painting of the property over a three-month period by a team of approximately 10 operatives, with portions of the works being completed while pupils were on-site.

For efficient service delivery, the team were inducted to understand the internal and external works as two separate sites. Successes included:

  • Efficient resourcing, enabling us to deliver the project at a period of significant demand on our business, resulting from an influx of similar works to be carried out in parallel due to the school holiday period
  • Ensuring a 100% health and safety compliance record, with effective near miss reporting leading to zero reportable incidents, especially significant given that it was a live site with pupils, required us to work to a tight deadline and work at height
  • Comprehensively planned site safety audits indicating a project score of gold in-line with Constructionline standards.


Vulnerable people considerations

Site manager, Richard Russell, worked with the client to identify additional measures to facilitate safe working around pupils. On-site, it was determined that signage methods would not be enough to prevent unauthorised access, due to pupil curiosity. Additionally, measures needed to be in place to avoid children speaking to the workforce.

To ensure zero harm we:

  • Used DBS-checked staff who received safeguarding refresher training
  • Planned to mitigate risk by scheduling 60% of works to occur outside school hours, utilising strict exclusion zones where this was not possible
  • Segregated site access into separate staff and pupil access points
  • Conducted reference checks and further PQQ checks of sub-contractors to ensure suitability for working around pupils.

Toolbox talks stressed the necessity for operatives to wear ID badges and uniquely numbered hi-vis PPE at all times, with supervisors conducting unscheduled spot-checks ensuring adherence, with zero non-conformances recorded. Contract Manager, Peter Twells NEBOSH, procured client feedback weekly, with a primary focus on the effectiveness of our risk mitigation methods, specifically with regard to working in proximity to children. Feedback on this was extremely positive, with the client praising the effectiveness of our embedded culture of behavioural health and safety.


Ensuring work programme success and specification compliance

Works were conducted internally and externally simultaneously, which enabled efficient transit of materials and minimised disruption. Further success was established via:

  • Use of ‘cascade resourcing’, with the maximum number of operatives needed to conduct works internally used at all times, and the ‘overflow’ assigned to the less time-dependent external works
  • 7-day work programmes and the necessary management and supply chain pipeline to facilitate this.

This resulted in completion of the programme in spite of instances of inclement weather, and increased safety due to operatives’ tasks varying, leading to reduced fatigue.

Progress was monitored by the site manager via unscheduled spot-checks, daily and weekly progress inspections, and informal operative reporting also feeding reporting. Data recorded included:

  • Specification compliance auditing results, such as checking the correct paint was being used in each case, e.g. the use of Johnstone’s Flexible Undercoat GMP externally
  • Inspecting for quality painting workmanship
  • Logging the progress of minor and/or ad-hoc repairs and the quality of the works carried out.

Additionally, to ensure strict health and safety procedure compliance, our Health and Safety Manager, Amy Pohribnyj BSc (Hons) PIEMA, Tech IOSH, PCQI, conducted monthly site-visits with the contract manager to monitor working procedures and the effective implementation of RAMS. Quality of work was assured to the client via reporting check sheets, and photographs being taken upon a task’s completion, especially significant where the painting involved working at height.

Effective pre-works planning, resourcing and monitoring resulted in all classrooms, corridors, staircases and ancillary areas being completed, inspected and handed over ahead of the established deadline.



We provided added value by working with the client and a specialist paint firm, PPG Paints. Using knowledge of the effect colours have on adolescent learning and emotions, we developed a colour scheme intended to facilitate an effective learning environment. Through pre-mobilisation meetings between the client, and our site and contract managers, the need to complete internal works prior to the commencement of the school’s September autumn term was communicated to our workforce as a key project goal. This resulted in:

  • Efficiency talks and risk mitigation refresher training prior to works start
  • Daily toolbox talks delivered to our workforce and contractors, communicating the previous day’s progress, and any lessons learned in-line with our ISO 9001:2015 working practices
  • Communicating the need for effective operative communications, with encouragement on raising potential work slowdowns to the site manager so that resource levels could be adjusted.

Clear lines of communication, including a contract-specific escalation policy process map, were established prior to work commencement, assuring the client on our safeguarding commitment. We also provided on-site walkarounds with a client representative daily, allowing any concerns to be raised, with formal progress reporting occurring weekly.


Site operational requirements

Due to St Bernard’s being an occupied site, several challenges had to be overcome. This included the strategic planning of MEWP access and material supply lines to mitigate disruption to stakeholder parking and facility access.

Additionally, in recognition of the site’s heritage status, additional caution was taken to protect the building’s appearance and integrity, such as operatives using disposable overshoes where appropriate to avoid treading dust, strategic boarding of windows to prevent accidental damage, and the use of rubber door stoppers in place of wooden ones to avoid damage to the building’s aging wooden doors. These considerations resulted in high levels of client satisfaction, with positive feedback given in post-works consultation.