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Saving money from the ground up

Heckmondwike FB's Bob Mortimer discusses how schools can save money by building future-proof schools

Posted by Alice Savage | May 09, 2017 | Facilities & buildings

Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrats leader recently revealed that a thousand local authority schools and more than a hundred academies were in debt. Farron stated that funding gaps had become a national scandal and should be a worry to parents. Furthermore, 5% of council schools and 4% of academy trusts have budget deficits. 

Kevin Courtney, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, estimates that 92% of schools in England could face real terms budget cuts over the next four years . With 80% of expenditure made up of staffing costs, it is a real possibility that many schools will cut personnel numbers in order to clear their budget deficits. 

Good design can have a positive impact on pupils and increase staff productivity by 15%

Research by RIBA estimates that around £150 million is spent per annum on unnecessary services and maintenance due to poor school design which could be avoided. It also highlights that good design can have a positive impact on pupils and increase staff productivity by 15%. It is therefore vital that schools are well built, insulated and designed with durable materials, in order to reduce costs on maintenance, heating bills and refurbishment, exacerbating the current crisis. The cycle of unnecessary spending can be averted if design and build is done to a high, sustainable standard and if durable products are installed.

When it comes to new build or refurbishment, flooring can help save essential maintenance costs if specified wisely. For example, fibre bonded carpets do not ravel or fray, they will last at least ten years and can be made to many different specifications, to meet branding requirements or for play with games like snakes and ladders or hop-scotch proving popular. Shapes and logos can be created in any fibre bonded products for a mat or inlaid into a floor. Products such as Heckmondwike’s Supacord require minimal maintenance and also have extremely useful anti-slip and antistatic properties. 

Loose lay mats and expo tiles can also transform a space such as a sports hall into a place for exams or other events, then can be removed and stored away, providing multiple options and improved acoustics for sports halls. Further advantages of these durable products are that they are stain resistant, can withstand heavy wear and tear from large footfall and can act as an interceptor, protecting carpets from shoeborne dirt and moisture.

When considering building materials, it is best practice to choose a product with sustainability ratings, particularly when it comes to education. Children are more sensitive to indoor pollution, which is two to five times higher than outdoor pollution. Supacord, Broadrib, Montage, Momentum and Wellington Velour products from Heckmondwike are all BREEAM certified, enabling buildings to achieve the highest BREEAM ratings. 

Choosing high quality, durable, easy to maintain and sustainable products will save money in the long term and offer other benefits such as low VOCs and a wide array of aesthetic options to fit any school’s needs. At a time where schools are struggling and in debt, considering products for long term value can help fill the funding gaps and debt by ensuring less maintenance costs in the future.

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