02 October 2020
Ministers have toured the new Les Quennevais School, which opened its doors on time this term.
The Chief Minister, Senator John Le Fondré, was joined by the Minister for Education, Senator Tracey Vallois, the Minister for Infrastructure, Deputy Kevin Lewis, Assistant Education Ministers, Senator Sam Mézec and Deputy Jeremy Maçon and Assistant Chief Minister, Deputy Scott Wickenden, for the visit today. Group Director of Education, Seán O’Regan and Head of Governance and Resource Management for CYPES, Nick Jewell, were also in attendance.
Headteacher Sarah Hague hosted the visit of the new £45.6 million facility, which opened on time at the start of the autumn term despite the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.
A new school was needed for Les Quennevais as the former facility, which opened in 1965 for 450 pupils, was too small for its cohort of 780 students.
Senator Le Fondré said: "It has been more than a decade since work began on this project and from the various school improvement proposals, to the public consultation on new sites, to the completion of the school in time for the first class, many people have been involved.
"Putting children first is the Government’s top priority and it is only through the coordinated and sustained efforts of many people across Government and beyond that we have been able to create a state-of-the-art facility which will be so important to giving our children the best opportunities to achieve their potential."
Planning permission was approved in October 2017 and local firm ROK Regal Construction started work on the school, which has capacity for up to 825 students, at the end of July 2018. The project, which was managed by the Infrastructure, Housing and Environment Department, was completed on 30 July 2020. The new school is made up of a 11,000m² main building, a 1,500m² sports hall as well as netball courts, a 3G five-a-side court, full-size grass football pitch and running track. A total of 100 solar panels have been added to the school, generating electricity of 32 kWh.
The local market was used to resource and deliver the project. Only one order was made off-Island which was for the studding of the perimeter of the building. This represented just one percent of the project value and was offered to the local market before the order was placed off-Island.
Deputy Lewis said: "Building a new school is far from a small project and so to finish on time is something to be greatly celebrated. I would like to thank the IHE Department as well as construction partners ROK Regal Construction for ensuring that the building work ran smoothly, especially as the project could have been easily derailed by the Coronavirus pandemic which has had a serious impact upon the building industry globally."
The visit to the school coincides with World Teachers’ Day on Monday 5 October, an annual event that marks the progress, and also reflects upon the remaining challenges, of the teaching profession.
Senator Vallois said: "The opening of the new Les Quennevais School is a historic and long-awaited moment for our community in the west of the Island.
"I am sure the new building and all the state-of-the-art facilities and technology within it will ensure that the creativity, passion and skills of our excellent teachers and support staff is no longer held back by outdated resources. A school is much more than bricks and mortar, the people within it and how they use it are vital to the outcomes we want to achieve. By providing a modern facility which students and teachers can thrive in shows that the Government is committed to our students, our staff and the Island’s education system for years to come.
"As we celebrate World Teachers’ Day on Monday 5 October I hope that the new Les Quennevais School shows the teaching profession that we continue on our journey to provide them with the best resources we can and that we share their dedication to ensuring the very best learning opportunities for our young people."
- The future use of the former Les Quennevais site is still being considered. Islanders were able to put forward suggestions for its use during a Call For Sites consultation, which identifies sites in the Island that may be suitable for development or protection from development. These suggestions will be considered in the context of the Island Plan.
- Les Quennevais branch library continues to operate from the former Les Quennevais site as co-locating it with the new school was not deemed practical. A business case for the relocation of the library is currently being drawn up.
- The background to building the new school dates back almost two decades. Plans to refurbish the former school were prepared in 2002 but the £7.5 million works, which were due to start in 2005 did not go ahead as other building projects took priority. In 2013, the refurbishment plan was revisited but questions arose whether the end result would justify the expense. Instead, regular maintenance was undertaken at the site and in 2015, the idea of building a new school gained momentum. Following a public consultation in the same year, fields that border La Route de Quennevais were chosen as the new site.
- The building project was awarded Ultra Site Status by the Considerate Contractors Scheme, a not-for-profit, independent organisation established to raise standards in the construction industry.
It was the first project in the Channel Islands to become an Ultra Site and it was given this award as the engagement with the school and promoting the industry was strong. While construction was underway every student visited the site and ROK also purchased software to allow the school to run the digital engineering programme Design Engineer Construct! course which aims to encourage more young people to learn about work within the construction sector.
- The project was marginally – 1% - overbudget. Part of this was due to the pandemic which disrupted the supply chain and also led to abortive costs on the travel arrangements of commissioning engineers. Additional costs also included additional sprinkler requirements following the Grenfell Tower tragedy and inflation in the purchase costs of mechanical and electrical equipment.