Award-winning, women-led Morgan Sindall project team praised for its Liverpool school build

We have worked closely with the school to provide careers days and other ad-hoc opportunities to inspire the female pupils to consider working in non-traditional roles, which has been received very well by the school.

The St Hilda’s project provided opportunities enabling three of our team to become Women in Construction & Engineering (WICE) finalists in the following categories: Best Project Manager, Best M&E Manager and Best QS.

Project Manager, Karen Fairhurst, Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd

A female-managed project team from Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd also scooped a CCS Bronze National Site Award 2016 for their considerate construction of St Hilda’s CE High School.

A female-managed project team from Morgan Sindall Construction & Infrastructure Ltd also scooped a CCS Bronze National Site Award 2016 for their considerate construction of St Hilda’s CE High School.

Led by Project Manager, Karen Fairhurst, the contract for client Liverpool City Council was to construct a £15m replacement school building within the city’s Grade II-listed Sefton Park Conservation Area.

As well as being female-led, four women held senior positions on the project – Sharon Moss (Managing Surveyor), Rachel Brown (Senior M&E Manager), Jane King (Sustainability Manager) and Alison Pernavas (Community Engagement Manager).

Indeed, Karen was awarded as winner of the European WICE Awards (Women in Construction and Engineering) ‘Best Women Project Manager’ 2015, for the development client, Liverpool City Council.

One of the team’s aims was to ensure that the project’s successful equal opportunities ethos was promoted to young girls at the school, to encourage them to follow their footsteps into the industry.

Karen entered the construction industry 10 years ago as a temporary site administrator on a site in Bradford and this led to the recognition and promotion of her managerial talents.

She said: “I didn’t know what I wanted to do, so I temped to get a flavour of different roles. The job had a few issues and the managers were under a lot of pressure, so I offered to help and ended up getting involved with the architects and trying to find solutions.”

Her skills were recognised and Karen was then offered a position as Works Package Manager on another project. The rest, as they say, is history.

Karen’s latest project – St. Hilda’s CE School – accommodates 930 pupils aged from 11-18 and is a complex development, delivered on a very restricted enclosed site. It is also located very close to a live school and two blocks of residential flats.

The project has allowed the presently all-girls school to transition into a co-educational establishment. Phase two, which is currently underway, sees the existing St. Hilda’s School demolished and a new sports hall constructed in its place.

The project commenced in February 2014 and is due for completion in June 2016.

Outlining the key elements of the project, Karen said: “Sustainability and localism were high on the agenda for the project. The new school provides a tremendous boost for thousands of present and future generations of school children and will ensure they get the most out of their learning.

“The team has ensured that this process has begun from the earliest stages to maximise the project legacy.”

One of the main challenges associated with the project was the location of the school – on protected conservation land.

Karen said: “The site falls within the Grade II Listed Sefton Park Conservation Area and immediately adjacent to a Grade II residential villa (Holt House), and close to two Grade I listed churches.

“This has required robust logistics planning for the site and close liaison with English Heritage and the school to ensure smooth operation and minimal disruption.”

Commenting on how the Scheme is improving the image of construction, Karen said: “The Scheme is constantly moving the bar and providing guidance on how to be a more considerate constructor.

“We have found the CCS experience on this particular project to be a pleasurable one, where the Monitor showed genuine interest in the project and the associated activites.

“This helped to motivate the site team to go the extra mile and identify further improvements.

“Many of the initiatives introduced as part of implementing the CCS’s Code of Considerate Practice have become standard practice e.g. working with education.”

Karen details how the team incorporated the requirements of the Scheme into their working practices:

Care about Appearance

  • The site team held a CCS planning meeting very early in the project and produced a CCS action plan to target initiatives.
  • Information pertinent to the CCS was structured and displayed in line with areas of the Code of Considerate Practice.

Respect the Community

  • The project team built up strong working relationships with the client, school and community through an open and transparent approach, and through numerous educational and social activities.
  • Attended supply chain ‘Getting Connected’ events to encourage new local SME’s (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises). Amongst those attending were Calvey Restoration who specialise in renovations, including traditional stonework and masonry. They were invited to tender for the natural stonework required to the school’s main entrance, boundary and internal walls. Calvey have now gone on to work on a further Morgan Sindall project.
  • All staff for the site were recruited through Liverpool in Work, with 95% of local employment achieved.
  • 250 weeks of apprenticeship training has been provided for 24 candidates. In addition, the project has so far generated 400 hours in work placements for post-16-year-olds and 387 hours of professional development events and activities. The project team also provided 199 hours of in-house development programmes and five hours of SME workshops.
  • Also to date, there have been five Sector Route-Way (back to work) placements, one work experience placement, two graduate placements, 14 new apprentices and 11 sustained apprentices.
  • At the beginning of the Liverpool School’s Investment Programme, the St Hilda’s project team spearheaded the creation of shared apprenticeship schemes; this is a collaborative programme to support placements throughout the programme of works, enabling apprentices to work on different projects. The team at St Hilda’s supported individuals throughout the entire two-year process of gaining their NVQ qualification.
  • A Construction Ambassador Day was held at St. Hilda’s, as well as on-going mentorship, encouraging the pupils into the industry and explaining the varying roles on offer. The school is encouraged to ‘bring the build’ into pupil’s coursework and lessons to maximise learning and inspire the pupils into careers within the construction industry. Examples of this included the site planner visiting a Year 12 lesson to discuss ‘critical path analysis and linear programming’, and how these are used in the building of the new school. This also demonstrated how parts of the Decision Maths module are used in real life. The project team also worked with the Year 8 Reporters Club, whereby they had the opportunity to interview site staff about the project.
  • Regular updates and letter drops to the school, Holt House and Tower Blocks included the CCS logo and contact information
  • Public engagement prior to the planning submission.
  • Updates also put onto the school’s website and noticeboard.
  • Presentation to residents of Holt House explaining the logistics of the project and the CCS (attended out of hours).

Protect the Environment

  • When compared to national benchmarks, the school solution that Morgan Sindall offered reduced running costs by 61% and increased the lifecycle by 34%, making it much a more sustainable option than a traditional design. The construction programme was also reduced by 26%, meaning that construction-related carbon emissions were also minimised.
  • Donations of timber from tree felling works were made to ‘Friends of Everton Park’.
  • Tree discs were donated for renewal of children’s play areas and a tree was earmarked to be milled into park benching and cladding. Timber was also donated by the tree company to an animal rescue shelter – Freshfields – to renew the enclosures and provide facilities for the animals.
  • Mast climbers were used for the installation of brickwork and windows, dramatically reducing the carbon footprint and the potential nuisance caused by having diesel-powered plant on site.
  • Motofog dust suppression system used during demolition to ensure all dust was dampened down.

Secure everyone’s Safety

  • Hours worked were 223,375 with no major accidents. Our team worked under our philosophy of 100% safe. This was of particular importance due to the proximity of the live operational school on the site.
  • The project team assisted the emergency services when Sydenham House next door to the site caught fire. The fire service used the site accommodation and facilities to set up a temporary operational centre during the incident.
  • They also supported the police by reporting an incident and helped to apprehend the suspect, as well as providing witness statements

Value their Workforce

  • Project Manager Karen Fairhurst and the largely female delivery team were recently interviewed by Construction News about the Scheme, and promoting equal opportunities and non-traditional careers for women in construction. This article made the front cover of the magazine.  As the female Project Manager, Karen Fairhurst was also interviewed by the Liverpool Echo and featured in this newspaper as well as other construction magazines.
  • Members of the project team also attended Liverpool Pride to promote careers in construction to the LGBT community.

The project team helped to upskill local SME’s including Liverpool Tree Services to help them gain CSCS cards and Jenkinsons to learn more about legacy audits and self-billing.