Wates proposes ‘Nightingale’ solution for schools
Wates Group has proposed building temporary schools in unused sports halls and community centres to get children back into education during the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this week, the government abandoned plans to bring all primary school children back into schools before the summer holidays as it emerged that there would not be enough space to accommodate them while 2m social distancing is in place. It has since proposed an extended catch-up plan for England’s schools for the summer and beyond.
Warning that urgent action is required now to avoid a ‘lost generation’ of students, Steve Beechey, group strategy director and education lead at Wates, said the firm supported calls to create new school places to accommodate children.
He said: “As a leading national construction firm specialising in schools, we fully back the proposals to urgently create new spaces for teaching and get our children back to school. With many unused community and commercial facilities such as sports halls, offices and community centres currently lying dormant, these can be rapidly refurbished to create temporary or permanent sustainable, educational facilities to accommodate a larger volume of students and teaching staff.
“We would recommend a design solution converting existing buildings through our proven Adapt Schools Solution approach, which offers a fast, affordable option for delivering educational facilities quickly with efficient design and procurement methods. This is an approach which we’ve already successfully carried out on over 50 sites in the UK working with the Department for Education, schools and local authorities over the last eight years.
“This model, along with the experience we gained delivering an emergency special project at the Royal London Hospital to convert two storeys into 176 additional beds during lockdown in just five weeks, means that it’s possible to provide a large quantity of new and safe teaching spaces within the next four to eight weeks.
“We’re keen to engage with the Department for Education on this solution to ensure we don’t let our young people down at this crucial time.”