A lesson in planning and communication

A lesson in planning and communication

Carrying out maintenance and refurbishment work in education facilities during the summer holidays can sometimes offer up a variety of challenges, including logistical and safety issues. Ahead of the school break, our head of client services Peter Hordley explains how challenges can be overcome through communication and planning.

The academic summer holidays provide an ideal time for the completion of maintenance and refurbishment work in empty schools, but when multiple schools require attention during this limited six or seven week window, challenges can be presented for us.

Not only is there a high demand for work from clients, but there is also a high demand for annual leave, so this can create a logistical issue which can be overcome through careful planning and communication.

We plan our workload far in advance of the busy summer period, to ensure we have the resources to complete projects and to arrange our operations around activities which may still be taking place in schools, such as exams and community group meetings.

There are, however, risks involved in this advance preparation. While most summer work is planned throughout January and February, education budgets will only be confirmed during April. This means that, when planning ahead for projects during the summer, only a proportion of these projects may actually go ahead.
Planning ahead for multiple projects, even when budgets are unconfirmed, is beneficial to the smooth running of operations. The downsides of plans being aborted are outweighed by the benefits of being able to arrange the majority of work in advance.
While forward-planning is essential for the successful completion of summer holiday work in schools, communication with stakeholders is also vital. We believe that planning work in partnership with school staff and stakeholders directly, rather than through the local authority, can offer an improved way of working.

While local authorities have a degree of knowledge about schools, such as term dates, they do not always know the inner workings of a school. For example, if a project was planned to run slightly into the first school term, staff would be able to advise on the areas which will still be available to work in during that period.

Staff can also advise on whether enabling works can be completed before the summer holiday, while we can explain the full extent of a project to staff, including design and layout, which allows any potential issues to be overcome before they arise.

Carrying out work in school environments can offer up many challenges, but the careful use of planning, partnering and communication between all parties can assist with the smooth, successful delivery of operations and ensure that all stakeholders involved remain safe.

Sharing ideas and successes about Learning and Development


Paul Nixon, our Learning and Development Advisor has been bringing likeminded people together to share their ideas, successes and pains. Here Paul tells us more about the Learning & Development gatherings…     Why do you hold a L&D gathering and who attends? I have been attending a gathering of Learning and Development professionals for the past 12 months.  The group meets every month in Manchester which poses two challenges for me.  Firstly, there is the commute to Manchester which eats up time in my day and, secondly, meeting every month was too much of a commitment.  I’m also a born and bred Stoke lad who wants to see innovation and a sense of community being developed in my city.  There is a quite a varied group of people that attend, all contributing unique and valuable experiences.  We have individuals from ICO, Leek United Building Society, Vodafone and Water Plus along with one or two independent consultants.   What have the group been discussing? When I set up the group, I was very clear about its purpose: sharing the successes we’ve recently had, the challenges we’ve faced and discussing any new trends, ideas or opportunities that may lie ahead.  This means everyone has a story to tell and experience to share.  It’s a relaxed, informal setting where people can speak openly, build relationships and find support.  There are only two major rules: no sales pitches and no touting for business!   What are the benefits to bringing likeminded people together? As the only person in Learning and Development at Novus, the group has provided me with a great opportunity to meet likeminded people who understand my successes and challenges.  Equally, hearing the experiences that other people have had is encouraging and motivating.  Learning about how other people have tackled similar problems helps me to be more creative and innovate in my own workplace.   When do you meet?  We meet every other month, normally on the first Friday of the month, although this is flexible.  We meet in the city centre at The Quarter café, who have kindly allowed us to use a private space for free.  If anyone is interested in attending, please get in touch with Paul via email paul.nixon@novussolutions.co.uk