A Welsh construction company is celebrating getting over 3000 pupils in South Wales into brand new accommodation in under two years.
BAM Construction, which has had offices in Maindy Road Cardiff since the 1940s, has just handed over £9 million pound Pencoed Primary School in Bridgend.
The 600-pupil school becomes the fifth built by BAM in South Wales in the past two years, taking the contractor, which provides work for around 900 people every year, to the 3000 pupils figure.
750 more pupils are set to occupy their new state of the art education facilities next year when BAM completes Brecon High School, which will mean that the company will have handed over around £90 million of new education facilities in the area within three years.
Justin Price, who lives in Ebbw Vale and leads BAM’s Welsh business, said:
“We’ve had a permanent presence in Wales for several decades. We don’t come and go according to the balance sheet. We’ve been building for education, health, and offices plus all sorts since then. Our strength comes from knowing the area and its people well, and our supply chain in South Wales is immensely strong and well-established. 84% of the people working on Brynmenyn School were local for example. We put back a huge amount into the local economy.”
BAM was recently ranked the UK’s second largest education contractor by the Builder’s Conference. Mr Price has no doubt why his team have been so prominent in the specialist market.
“Schools are very special places. You have to build them right on schedule because of the academic timetable commencing at this time of the year. You have to phase your works carefully around the exam timetable. And you have great opportunities to connect with the future generation of young construction professionals by using our site as a learning environment for them.”
The other schools BAM has handed over in the past year include Gaer Primary in Newport, where BAM amalgamated the infant and primary schools; John Frost Secondary which is Newport’s first Welsh medium secondary school, and Fishguard School in Pembroke.
Justin Price added:
“We’ve handed over facilities of all sizes, from major £30 million high schools to the smaller primary schools, and reaching all sizes right from infants. There are two very important things I can tell you from our experience.
“One is that schools are always on a tight budget so the procurement process is vital to achieve affordability and value for money. And the second thing is that each school is individual. They may have common elements, but they are not warehouses or retail units. You have to deliver something bespoke that reflects its specific teaching ethos.
“Both factors mean the key to success is getting to know your clients, listening very closely to them, and working with them openly and honestly to deliver exactly what they need. That’s our approach, and we’re proud to have so many brand new Welsh schools on our record.”
Mr Price personally led the construction of Cardiff University’s Cubric building a couple of years ago, and the company is also behind the University’s forthcoming Centre for Student Life.
The £22 million Brecon High School – which is funded through the South East Wales Schools Capital Working Group (SEWSCAP) framework - opens in time for next year’s academic term. The school has set up a website page with a ‘countdown clock’ timing the delivery of its new facilities.
“No pressure there then!” Mr Price adds.