Hassenbrook Academy – Rewire (Phase 1)

Key Facts:

Client Name: Hassenbrook Academy (Part of the Ortu Federation)
Location: Stanford-le-Hope, Essex
Type of client: Secondary Academy
Services provided by M+C: Building Surveying |M&E Services Design | Procurement | Project Management | Funding Application
Value: £813,278
Contractor: SW Bruce
M+C Lead: Lee Hatwell

Hassenbrook Academy is an up-and-coming secondary academy located in Stanford-le-Hope, Essex. The academy is now part of the Ortu Federation, comprising the nearby Gable Hall School and Corringham Primary School. The school has historically suffered from both low student numbers, and under-investment, but is now undergoing a program of works to bring the buildings up to modern standards.

M+C have been supporting the school throughout this planned refurbishment with a range of services. As is common within the education sector, the school’s annual budgets are feeling the pinch and, simply put, they are unable to fund the required work themselves. Therefore the school took the decision to seek a grant from the CIF fund, to help pay for the most pressing items.

Lee Hatwell, lead consultant for M+C worked closely with the school to determine which project was most likely to attract the funds so desperately needed. The company produced an asset management plan, and they used this to help determine which tasks should take priority. It was clear that the school’s electrical services required immediate attention with a full rewire as they were not only unfit for purpose, but were also dangerous in some areas.

Electrical issues

Much of the existing installation dated back to the original 1960/70s construction, and had seen various repairs and alterations since then. Because of this, standards had fallen below those required for safety. In particular, the installation was operating at a level which breached fire safety laws. Furthermore it did not come up to acceptable lighting standards, or wiring regulations. The school commissioned both an electrical condition inspection, and an electrical engineer’s survey in 2016. The main points detailed in these are as follows:

  • The electrical condition inspection report highlighted 438 items for review
  • This included 43 C2 items
  • The mains distribution dated from the original construction date and contained ACMs
  • In addition, the mains distribution did not comply with IEE Electrical Wiring Regulations
  • The cabling was past its life expectancy
  • Taped off circuit breakers on the distribution board would warrant an immediate HSE Prohibition Notice
  • Some areas of the school had no emergency lighting at all
  • Where there was emergency lighting installed, it was running from a central battery system. This was in poor condition and in immediate danger of complete failure
  • There were a number of different types of fittings within the lighting system. Many of these were in poor or dangerous condition with exposed or unprotected lamps

The Solution

M+C’s team designed a solution to address these issues. Hassenbrook School’s buildings cover a large area and the team decided to split the project into three geographical phases. Not only would this minimise disruption to learning,  but would also spread the amount of money that the school needed to request from CIF across more than one funding round. Works scheduled for completion during phase one comprised:

  • A full electrical rewire of the phase one areas of the school
  • Replacement of all electrical outlets and provision of additional outlets where required
  • Installation of new general and emergency lighting
  • Installation of new containment system
  • Upgrade of mains distribution and associated wiring
  • Supply and installation of replacement false ceilings where required. 24mm Armstrong grid system with Dune Tegular ceiling tiles specified for this
  • Plasterboarding and skimming of hallway ceilings
  • Specialist removal of Asbestos Containing Materials where present
  • All associated building works including enabling works and making good

Lee completed a full tender process to enable the school to demonstrate cost certainty to the ESFA. Three contractors returned a bid, of which SW Bruce were the most competitive and their costs formed the basis of the funding application.


The school are operating in a state of budget deficit meaning that whilst they would have been willing to make a financial contribution to the project, they were simply unable to do so. However, the significant energy savings generated by the completion of this project, meant that the school could take a Salix loan for part of the cost. As well as providing the school with a cost neutral option to generate funds, this also demonstrated the school’s commitment to the project thus strengthening their CIF bid. The ESFA announced the funding results at the end of March 2017, and in a year when M+C successfully secured £25m for their client schools, Hassenbrook’s bid was one of these successes.


Due to the scale and complexity of the project, it was not possible to complete the rewire during holiday time. Therefore the M+C put together the delivery program with a view to keeping as much of the building functional as possible. In fact, at that time, the school was not operating at full capacity, allowing a level of flexibility. The M+C team worked closely with the school to come up with a schedule of works, rotating classroom availability as necessary. Major works, such as the electrical intake upgrades took place at weekends to avoid loss of service during teaching time.

Although the M+C team made allowance for program slippage, the project remained on track. Meticulous planning and regular school communication were both key to the success of this area of the project. Handover took place at the beginning of September 2017 ready for the start of the new school year. The school were happy with the smooth running of phase one, and M+C commenced work on phase two in May 2018.