Since inception the education sector has been a constant for Taylor. Mark’s very first opportunity was a private school project and it was this early relationship that proved vital for the business, providing a five year pipeline of work, and a solid foundation for growth.
Over our 25 year history Taylor has delivered more than 100 school projects. Recent portfolio highlights include the Knox Grammar School Performing Arts Centre, Homebush West Public School, and the Taronga Institute of Science and Learning facility. Taking a relationship-led approach to delivering on the client’s vision has been central to the company’s success.
Ben Folkard, General Manager of Fitout and Refurbishment, joined Taylor in 2007 as a Contract Administrator. In 2009 the Government announced the rollout of the Building the Education Revolution program and it was during this time that Ben stepped up as Project Manager to run three school projects for our clients.
Ben has accrued diverse and broad experience in the sector. With 65% of our people having worked on a school project in the last two years, he believes that education projects are Taylor’s sweet spot. This depth of experience means Taylor is always in a good position to put forward the best team for education projects. Internally, we draw from previous experiences, all lessons learned are captured and shared with the wider team. This internal rigor allows us to continually add value to our design and methodology approaches for schools.
Caring for communities
There are many safety measures put in place to effectively manage construction for schools. “Working in a live environment can be pretty challenging,” explains Ben Folkard, “School projects have specific standards and guidelines that need to be managed and we’re in a good position to do this properly. The safety of children is always the number one priority.”
A clear separation between construction works and active school environments is critical, achieved with appropriate security fencing, and 2.4m high hoardings applied to boundaries. To ensure safe arrivals and departures, pedestrian management is another key priority with dedicated resources managing ‘Kiss and Drop’ zones, bus drop off areas, and students’ walk-ways.
Being mindful of residents’ needs and doing the right thing in local suburbs has a huge impact on community wellbeing. Resident access and parking, for example, is so important. At Taylor we include parking strategies in our inductions and toolbox meetings, and we require subcontractors to park two streets back from school sites. Our aim is to minimise stakeholder stress, wherever possible. We’ve found that proper management of the things within our control, can have huge benefits on project timelines and client satisfaction.
Keeping up with the needs of 21st century students
With Sydney’s population set to double in size in the next 40 years it is essential that school environments are improved to allow for increases in demand. We are seeing several key trends as a result of population growth and demographic shifts.
One such trend is the adoption of flexible learning spaces, like those delivered by Taylor for Lindfield Learning Village Stage 1, a new state of the art school where they are adopting a unique approach to teaching. At Lindfield students advance based on their progress rather than their age. Older students are encouraged to mentor the younger ones, and students take responsibility for their own learning.
At Taylor, we are always seeking out ways to make our schools more comfortable, or environmentally sustainable. With the installation of both air conditioning and solar panels, we can deliver not only self-sufficiency but a better return for our clients.
To allow for the construction of new buildings and a better utilisation of space, we are seeing an increased demand for rooftop playgrounds, with soft fall created to ensure the children are provided with safe play essentials.
“Schools have certainly changed a lot since I was there. It’s exciting to see where construction and fit out is headed in this space. There has definitely been a shift in the way children are educated and all aspects of the sector are responding to keep up with the needs of our 21st century students.” Ben Folkard.
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