Northumberland County Council


Galliford Try Building Ltd



An engaging project for the Ponteland community

The school was Galliford Try's first YORbuild2 project. It involved demolition of the former building and the construction of an entirely new one. It proved a fantastic opportunity for engaging local residents, staff and pupils with the project and wider construction industry. A collaborative approach was taken throughout, keeping the school and community involved at every step.

Northumberland County Council utilised the YORbuild2 Framework to engage with an appropriate contractor to provide a high quality learning environment to support the school in their transition. Galliford Try were successful with their bid and awarded the scheme to start in September 2017.

The project has achieved a transformed learning environment for pupils and staff at Darras Hall, creating a educational environment where students can now stay from age 3-11 years.

A flexible approach

The new school was built first, and once the staff and pupils had moved across the demolition of the old building began. Additionally new sports pitches and a large modern outdoor learning area were constructed.

The project team engaged with the school throughout the duration of the build, providing opportunities and engagement above and what was required.

Exceeding expectations

Galiford Try exceeded their social value requirements. Where they were required to organise 8 school, college and univeristy student visits they actually provided 66. They also provided 50% more apprentice weeks than than they committed to and engaged an extra apprentice.

The contractor engaged with the school in a friendly manner throughout the project, which has left a real legacy with the pupils and staff, and which Galliford Try and individual site team members are extremely proud of. Examples of these include; revitalising the wetland area within the school grounds though not specified in the programme of works, gifting a name stone, retaining and reframing an art panel in memory of a former teacher at Darras and our supply chain gifting each student an Easter egg.

School engagement

The site team also encouraged pupils to become involved in the process of building of their new school and invited a group of pupils onto site every week to create a regular school blog, sharing their findings and photographs with the rest of the school. Pupils signed the steel on their new classrooms, so they could see where they would be moving to and feel a connection to the new build from an early stage. Galliford Try staff attended and supported the summer and Christmas fairs and even joined pupils in school to enjoy a Christmas lunch together.

A site open day for pupils, local residents and businesses saw a staggering 432 people attended.