Steve Topliss is a senior project manager within our Regional Building Southern team. Last year, we were appointed by the Department for Education (DfE) to deliver a transformation programme at Mayfield School in Portsmouth. Here, Steve reveals why this project means so much to him.

“21 years ago, I walked out through the doors of Mayfield School in Portsmouth, for what, I thought would be the last time.

Last November, I was informed that Kier had been appointed by the DfE to transform a School in Portsmouth and when I found out it was Mayfield, and I was to be the senior project manager, I was delighted.

As it turns out, I am not the only person from the local Kier office returning, with other former pupils, including David Timms, Jonny Gilbert and Lisa Wiltshire. What’s more, when we started on site in February, Lord Mayor David Fuller broke the ground for the new site, and we discovered he also attended Mayfield – so many of its former alumni are proud to be going back to play a part in helping its future.

The transformation programme entails us building a new school on the eastern playing field and when this new building is complete, the old building will be demolished. So far, we have carried out ground works, erected the steel frame and installed a ground floor slab. We will be moving on to fitting the windows and doors, roof works and the building’s façade through the summer of 2020. The internal works will start from the middle of this month with dry lining and we will also be commencing mechanical and electrical works. When constructed, the building will be three storeys high and 9422m² in size, catering for over 1,400 pupils and the existing school building will be demolished.

In homage to the school’s history, parts of the existing building will be incorporated in to the new school, including the portico entrance, its war memorial plaques and a timeline of the school’s history will be on a walk way leading through to the main entrance. We are also relocating the original 1930s clock on to the façade of the new building.

Something that we most definitely did not have in my day, that I think will be a focal point of the new school is the innovation laboratory we are building – a STEM hub that will allow the talent of tomorrow to test out their ideas in a purpose-built space.

As the school is in the heart of Portsmouth, we are very mindful of our impact on the local community and we are regularly communicating with residents via monthly newsletters to let them know about their new school. We are also compassionate to the environment and at  Mayfield School there are a number of protected trees on the site – we have fences around them, so they are not harmed in any way during the build, although this did prove to be a huge challenge when the site was being remediated.

COVID-19 has meant that we’ve had to adapt our ways of working and we have followed all Government guidance and worked in compliance with our Site Operating Procedures. With the pupils having not been at the school, we have missed the school’s daily hive of activity, but when they return, we look forward to updating them on the progress we have made at their new school.

Kier is a leading provider of educational buildings and alongside the DfE and Portsmouth City Council, we are working hard to deliver first-class facilities that will cater for the modern day needs of teachers and their pupils.

This school has been serving the local community for the last 90 years and with this new building, it will continue to do so for future generations. It means a huge amount to be involved in this project, quite simply I could not be prouder to be transforming my former secondary school.”