Queen Elizabeth Grammar School

Queen Elizabeth Grammar in Faversham, Kent, was one of the many schools that lost out when the Building Schools for the Future programme was scrapped following the Comprehensive Spending Review in 2010.

The main teaching block and science block were built in 1967 and are reinforced concrete buildings with an exposed concrete frame, which was in a very poor condition. Sections of concrete were spalling and falling off, exposing the corroded steel reinforcement underneath.

Repairs undertaken in 2001 and 2005 were already failing, the buildings needed constant maintenance and they posed a risk to health and safety. The buildings were uninsulated and with single-glazed Crittall windows on the main elevations and did not retain heat well. As a result, the school’s energy bills were high. Classrooms, which face east and south, were poorly ventilated and suffered from solar gain and so they were hot and uncomfortable in summer.

The school wanted to improve the thermal efficiency of its buildings and comfort of students and staff. And, a fresh new look for the old buildings would send a positive message to the school community.

We carried out a detailed investigation of the buildings frame and envelope and an analysis of heat gain and natural ventilation to develop a refurbishment strategy involving:

  • Encasing or removing two linear kilometres of defective concrete
  • Removal of horizontal concrete window transoms and repair and protection of the exposed concrete frame.
  • Installation of double-glazed aluminium windows
  • Insulating and recladding the walls

The new windows and cladding were designed to be fixed in front of the exposed concrete frame, thereby protecting and insulating the reinforced concrete elements from the weather, reducing cold-bridging, interstitial condensation and further concrete failure. The new windows are doubled-glazed with an outer pane of solar glass to reduce solar heat gain by 52% without a significant loss of daylight. In summer, blinds in the classrooms can be left up, the windows can be opened for natural ventilation and the lights can be turned off during the day.

The success of this project means the classrooms are now comfortable and perform significantly better than before, with reduced running costs, and the school is very pleased with the new look of the refurbished blocks.

A rolling 12-week programme of work was planned around GCSEs, A-Levels, and 6 weeks of classes before the summer break. We managed the contract, took on the post-contract QS role and kept to the tight budget, completing in time for the new academic year.

“In working with Clay at Queen Elizabeth’s School Faversham, I have seen how their meticulous and accurate work in preparing and managing a 350-window replacement and recladding project has revitalised a drab and uninspiring 1960’s building into a building fit for the 21st century. This project alone helped the school to improve its marketing appearance and helped improve the student’s perception of the school.”

Chris Freeman, School Business Manager, Queen Elizabeth Grammar School