Meadgate Primary School – Electrical Upgrade

Key Facts:

Client Name: Meadgate Primary School (Part of the Eveleigh Link Academy Trust)
Location: Great Baddow, Essex
Type of client: Primary Academy
Services provided by M+C: Building Surveying | Planning Services | Procurement | Project Management | Funding Application
Value: £594,000
Contractor: SW Bruce

Meadgate Primary School is an oversubscribed and popular primary school, just outside of the County town of Chelmsford, Essex. There are approximately 270 students on roll at present. Built in the 1960s, some of the school’s services are now suffering from degradation. In particular, the electrical system was original to the building, and had reached the end of it’s useful life. Because the school was unable to fund the required improvements from their annual budget, they took the decision to apply for a CIF grant. M+C have a great deal of experience supporting schools in Essex prepare their funding bids. Meadgate approached the practice for help, as they felt that they needed some guidance through the process, which they had never been through before.

Electrical Installation Issues

The first action was to have an electrical survey completed to determine the failings in the existing system. The main points raised within that survey were as follows:

  • The original Dorman Smith electrical switch gear and distribution network was at the end of it’s life cycle
  • Furthermore, some of the parts are no longer available, putting the system at risk of complete failure
  • A fixed wiring test took place in 2012, and found open and exposed live circuits
  • RCD protection was insufficient, and posed a risk of electrocution
  • The emergency lighting and fire alarm system were not up to standard
  • General lighting within the school was insufficient and in poor condition
  • The original switch gear contained asbestos and posed a real risk to health
  • Maintenance teams were unable to service the installation within ground floor ceiling voids, due to the presence of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs)
  • The PVC trunking was ceiling mounted using double-sided tape, and posed a real risk of entrapment in the event of a fire
  • Ineffective earthing of the lightning conductor left the building vulnerable during storms
  • The school’s buildings insurance cover was at risk of becoming void due to the problems detailed above

The Solution

The M+C team then put together a proposal to address these problems. They completed an options appraisal, which soon made it clear that the only viable option was to carry out a full rewire of the building. In addition to this, the project would include specialist removal of all ACMs and replacement switching equipment and lighting. An electrical engineer designed the new system, and with the specification completed tender process was started. The scope of works included:

  • A full electrical rewire of the school buildings
  • Replacement of all outlets and installation of additional sockets where required
  • Supply and installation of new general and emergency lighting throughout the school
  • Installation of new containment system
  • Upgrade of the mains distribution
  • Supply and install replacement false ceilings where required, using 24mm Armstrong grid system with Dune Tegular tiles
  • Specialist removal and disposal of ACMs
  • All associated building work and making good


Three responses from the tender process were received, the most cost effective of which was from SW Bruce. He then helped the school to put together their funding bid, advising on the details that they should include in their supporting information. Although the school had limited capital available, they were able to make a small contribution towards the works. Together with the cost certainty provided by the tender process, this added strength to the school’s application. In addition, photos of the areas of concern and copies of the surveys taken, enabled the school to firmly demonstrate the need for the proposed works to take place. Unsurprisingly, the ESFA approved the grant, and work commenced on site soon after.


SW Bruce carried out the works under a JCT Minor Works Building Contract under the guidance of M+C’s project management team. Not only was this job too large to be completely solely during school holidays, but it also impacted all areas of the building. The schedule commenced at the end of May 2017, and was due for completion by the beginning of the school year in September. Therefore thorough planning was key, in order to keep disruption to a minimum. M+C worked closely with the school to plan which areas to tackle in which order. Some aspects of the works required a full shut down of services. Since this is not compatible with the daily running of the school, the team carried these out during evenings, weekends and during the holiday.

The delivery team kept the project on track and on budget and handed the job over to the school head teacher ready for the new school year. Further to his satisfaction with the standard of work completed by SW Bruce, the head praised M+C for their part in running a successful installation.