Governors have worked for a long time to update the building exterior and make it more energy efficient and appealing on the outside, but it has always been piecemeal, with the school budget never able to make more than a dent on the appearance and energy efficiency of the building and very high fuel bills each year. It was after an energy review by Concertus in Spring 2017, that we were told that 80-85% of our energy was seeping out of the building through the roof, walls and windows. It was then that we became aware of just how much of an issue energy loss was. In the meantime we had taken advantage of Salix funding schemes to provide us with solar energy, and ensure we had efficient lighting, but this was only a part of our drive to make the school building more energy efficient.
In 2018, when the school celebrated its 50th birthday, we were offered the possibility of becoming a pilot scheme to show how our 1950’s built building could be refurbished to enhance its efficiency and appeal. This became a project in two halves. Initially we were to have the roof renovated, and this project proved to have less impact day to day on school life, since by its very nature it took place mostly on top of the building. Part two was to strip off the old cladding, remove and replace the single glazed windows with more secure aluminium double glazed units and doors, and insulate and replace the original wooden cladding with more modern and fireproof coloured composite cladding. This did have more impact on the daily life of the school, but with regular meetings and good communication, plus a dedicated team of builders determined to make the new Covid regulations work, difficulties were overcome through working together positively. All in all the project work took place over eighteen months.
At our 50th birthday celebration, previous pupils spoke fondly of the security system – wooden poles stuck across the windows to prevent them opening from the outside - and were amazed to find the system still in use 50 years later. Classrooms were cold in the winter as heat escaped, and baking hot during high summer, when glare made whiteboards impossible to read, and windows uncomfortable to sit by. The hall temperature ranged from freezing to overly hot, and glare from the windows meant curtains were often half drawn, obscuring the lovely view of our beautiful grounds.
Our building now has solar resistant glass, double glazing, proper insulation and carefully considered fire breaks within the new smart outside cladding. It is as if our school has a beautiful new overcoat, and now we feel the outside of the building matches the inside, which has always been welcoming with wonderful displays.
Parents, staff and governors are delighted that Suffolk have seen fit to invest in us as a successful and sustainable school, which will take us into the future.