Maintenance foot traffic, general aging and more than its fair share of vandalism had resulted in the roof at Broad Oak School, just outside St Helens, needing some serious attention. The school is a community primary setting, larger than most, with 445 pupils aged three to eleven years. There is even a nursery, which the younger children attend on a part-time basis.
The school, built in the 1930's, is situated in an area of high social deprivation and pupil numbers have fallen steadily since 1997, largely as a result of people moving out of the area as local industries have closed.
Broad Oak benefits from its involvement in several initiatives - such as 'Excellence in Cities', 'Neighbourhood Renewal' and 'Family Learning' - which provide extra funding and support and it has also received substantial funding for information and communication technology through the 'Single Regeneration Budget'.
The school is very much a community school with a separate community room, which is staffed by hard-working volunteers and provides the opportunity for local people to attend a range of events each week, including a parents and tots group and a pensioners luncheon club.
Despite its difficulties Broad Oak is an effective and improving school, which provides well for its pupils and is a valuable asset to the community.
Making do simply won't do.
Originally the pitched roof was traditional slate, but for the reasons mentioned earlier, the roof began to fail about ten tears ago.
During this period an unacceptable amount of piecemeal maintenance was employed, but when the full funding for the necessary repairs was received this year, St Helens Metropolitan Borough Council decided to talk to Decra Roof Systems, the UK's leading metal roofing system supplier who have an excellent track record in the education sector - and a high level of planning acceptability as a result.
The ideal solution would be a vandal-resistant tile with a slate appearance finish that would be in keeping not just with the original roof, but the surrounding area as well.
The roof refurbishment at Broad Oak required around 1200m2 of tiles and the choice was the Decra Stratos tile, which has an attractive riven surface and a finish similar in appearance to a slate roof.
Charcoal grey was chosen for this project but pepperstone is also an option.
A downturned front edge and an upturned rear edge ensure a strong, overlapping and interlocking roof covering which virtually rules out the possibility of vandalism or forced entry and like all Decra roof systems, the Stratos tile is manufactured as a complete steel panel of tiles as opposed to individual tiles.
The tiles are dry-fixed throughout, requiring virtually no maintenance over the lifetime of the building and even remaining unaffected by UV light.
The coated, galvanised panels are extremely light and easy to handle, about one-seventh the weight of concrete tiles and need fewer fixings than conventional tiles - covering at 2.54 tiles per m2, against 19.6 per m2 for natural slate tiles - making them ideal for fast-track installations.
As a result, there is less contractor time spent up and down ladders and on the roof itself, helping to reduce the risk of accidents.
Decra Stratos tiles offer complete weather protection, even at pitches as low as 12 degrees - not something that slate or other conventional tiles can match and they are ideal for pitched roof conversions too.
A new specialist installer for the network.
Decra had been looking to appoint a new firm in the St Helen's area to expand their nationwide network of specialist contractors and Windle Roofing of Sutton Leach were recommended by the main contractor, Hardshaw Developments .
Windle Roofing have an excellent reputation locally, but had never installed Decra before.
A company training officer was immediately sent on site to oversee a comprehensive training course and ensure that the highest installation and best practice standards would be maintained.
Decra's technical consultant for the North West region, Tracy Wood, then picked up the responsibility and made sure she was on hand to monitor progress and help with any advice during the four week installation period.
Helen Smith, Head Teacher at Broad Oak, observed: 'The project ran extremely smoothly, with the contractors and sub-contractors working extremely hard, taking care and pride in everything they did'.
'The covering and the neat installation has changed the whole appearance of the school and we would have no hesitation in recommending the Decra System and the contractors in the future'.
Efficiency behind the scenes too.
Off-site there is a lot of customer centred activity in evidence as well, with Decra offering comprehensive technical support for all product areas and working closely with designers and installers to achieve the optimum solution for any situation.
There is a supply chain advantage with the large format Decra tiles too, in that fewer delivery trucks are required and less storage space is required on site.
A 'just in time' delivery system means that precise schedules within the building programme can be met, again reducing on site storage requirements and reducing the risk of theft.
For complete customer peace of mind Decra products are manufactured to ISO 9001, covered by British Board of Agrement certification - and supplied with a unique 30-year guarantee, covering not just the tiles but the complete weather integrity of the entire roof.
Something that Broad Oak certainly welcomed.