In the summertime

A number of independent schools are using the summer holidays to start work on new estates developments

From Glasgow to Doha, a number of schools are taking the opportunity to make hay while the sun shines, developing their facilities and even opening new schools to provide the best standard of education in the coming academic year.

ACS Cobham International School has recently unveiled plans for a new state-of-the-art boarding house, due to open in 2017. The facility will allow the school to accommodate an additional 113 students in single and twin en-suite rooms, and provide eight new study areas and common rooms, as well as laundry rooms and games areas.

The build contractors, Caledonian, are due to begin construction works on the new boarding house this summer.

The project will involve the construction of a brand new contemporary four-floor building, with accommodation for boarders and common rooms on each floor. As well as accommodation for boarding house staff, there will be a medical centre, multiple social areas, quiet study rooms, a triple height atrium and extensive outdoor landscaped areas.

Mark Venn-Dunn, Head of Boarding at ACS Cobham, commented: “Our new facilities will enable us to further improve the boarding experience, with light, airy rooms, an array of social hubs and state of the art facilities all of which will contribute to what boarding should be for each individual student in our care. There are spaces for recreation, watching the latest movies or music on large screens, preparing and eating meals in large groups, quiet relaxation and contemplation – even studying!”

ACS Cobham will continue to provide both seven and five day boarding options for students, alongside the increasingly popular flexi-boarding offer. The new larger development will be followed by a full refurbishment of the existing Boarding House.

Pupils at Kelvinside Academy in Glasgow will get the full Palo Alto experience when they return to school in August. 

Plans are in place this summer to transform the existing library into an innovative Thinking Space inspired by Silicon Valley, designed to foster creativity, collaboration and independence.

Kelvinside Academy – new library drawings

Kelvinside Academy Headmaster Ian Munro, who is the youngest rector at any UK independent school, said: “Offices of organisations like Google have shown that these spaces help to encourage creative thought. That’s vital for our pupils.

“Our aim is to create a place where young people want to learn, and to provide resources to support them. What’s more is that it truly will be their space, as pupils were consulted throughout the planning and development process. 

“The Thinking Space is situated in the heart of the school. It will be at the core of our ongoing commitment to develop a passion for thinking and learning.”

The facility will also include an experimental teaching room, with tables and walls that pupils can write on, which teachers will use to develop innovative teaching and learning practices.  

Whilst the redeveloped library will still contain paper stock, pupils will make use of digital devices to access the school’s online subscription content platforms.

The 34 year-old rector added: “We do more than just prepare our pupils to pass exams.

ACS Cobham International School boarding house

“We are incredibly ambitious for our leaners and believe it is vital that they develop learning dispositions that will allow them to flourish in a rapidly changing world. We view qualities such as independence, collaboration and creativity to be as important as exam grades.”

In Qatar, King’s College Taunton will be making final preparations for its new school opening, King’s College Doha. 

A shortage of quality independent school places in the country and a rapidly growing population has led to problems for families looking to move to Qatar. The opening of King’s College, Doha in September will provide a traditional British offering for international families who want a first class education for their children.

The development of the existing site is well under way and will provide outstanding facilities for children from three to 11 years. King’s College Doha will provide state-of-the-art facilities, delivering the very best of a British independent school curriculum within a Qatari context. 

Using modern school design techniques, each space offers teaching and learning opportunities – even corridors are purposefully designed to assist with the learning and play environment.  The design of the internal and external spaces is also focused on harnessing and promoting interaction between all users and visitors to the school. There will be a mix of refurbishment of the existing building and two new-build classroom blocks on the site plus brand new science, music, art and sports facilities. 

The steady programme of refurbishment means that the school is expected to be ready by mid August. A second phase of works, to construct classrooms for the future year five and six pupils as well as specialist study centres, will be started in 2017.


Dr Steffan George from The Master Locksmith Association has some advice for security diligence over the holidays 

  • Assess damage to the building and put any necessary work into action well before the end of term. Things to look out for in terms of deterioration and breakage include doors, windows, roof tiles and slates, wall cladding (vertical tiling and timber boarding etc), alarms, locks and exterior skirts to the base of temporary classrooms
  • Consider whether the building needs extra alarms and security, and where. It’s a good idea to place alarms within areas where expensive IT equipment is located and, for additional peace of mind, secure the equipment to desks. If new equipment is being installed or delivered it should not be visible from the outside and empty packaging must be discretely disposed of so it doesn’t entice opportunist criminals. Specific secure storage can be created for high value IT equipment for example
  • Fencing should be fully intact with no bolts, hinges, handles or damaged sections which could work as footholds for easy access. A professional MLA-approved locksmith can carry out a security and safety assessment on all locks and access routes, advising you on suitable fittings. It’s important to ensure that they not only provide a good level of security, but also meet insurance requirements
  • Large or overgrown trees or shrubbery can provide unnecessary areas of cover for intruders and lead to blind spots on CCTV coverage. It’s especially important to check that this greenery does not cover security fencing as this would provide an easy access route for a potential intruder
  • If part of the building is being used over the summer holidays by clubs, staff or community groups, it’s important to ensure this poses as minimal a risk as possible to the security of the building. A holiday access policy is a good idea, with clear security instructions covering alarms, access routes and times, and the management of keys. Master key systems can help ensure that only access to the designated areas is allowed with the keys provided
  • Summer holidays are the ideal time for maintenance work, both to the building itself and to security installations, but having workers present unavoidably poses extra risks to security. If work is being done to security products such as alarms, it’s important to consider how long they will be out of action and put a contingency plan in place. It’s also a good idea to have these workers wear security badges as opportunist thieves could pose as contractors to gain access
  • Security shutters and grilles are another great way of boosting security. If they are already installed, it’s important to ensure they are operating correctly and fitted with suitable locking devices. A lot of MLA-approved locksmiths can advise on this and recommend the most suitable grilles and shutters.
  • While security is an important consideration in any school, safety is the primary concern when the school reopens. Checks should include verifying the functionality of fire doors, checking emergency exit doors have the correct escape hardware, are working correctly and are not compromised, checking all signage and fire risk assessments are in place and, where necessary, updating fire risk assessments


ACS Cobham International School – 

Kelvinside Academy – 

Master Locksmith Association – 

King’s College, Doha – 

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