St Mary's Catholic Primary School
In 2022, St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Whitstable, Kent was ‘highly commended’ in the Green Initiative Competition led by the Kent Catholic Schools’ Partnership. As part of the competition, the year groups had to spend time thinking about how the school could become greener and how they could renovate the school’s outdoor areas. The ideas were then compiled and submitted to the trust in a proposal. Out of the 23 schools that entered, the school was shortlisted in the top six schools, and following an interview stage, involving three pupils, the school received £3000 to put towards their plans.
The plans to make the school more sustainable included: growing produce in available spaces including window boxes, with surplus donated to food banks; use of compost bins on the playground; and installing extra water butts. The donation would be put towards items to help including recycling bins, water butts, compost, solar panels, and benches, and also fencing.
Originally the boundary around the front of the school had a low timber featherboard fence. Over time, although the fence had been painted to spruce it up, the timber was starting to rot and had turned an unsightly colour. Rotten timber fences not only create a security risk as they can be easily broken through to gain access, but they also present a safety hazard with splinters, finger traps in the timber and loose nails. This is particularly a concern in primary schools with children in close proximity to the fence.
There also needs to be a careful balance between privacy and visibility when it comes to schools. Ideally, the front of the school to the office should have clear views to the outside so that staff can monitor what’s going on outside. Meanwhile, it’s a good idea for playgrounds and sports fields which are next to public roads to have fencing with concealment properties so that members of the public cannot interact with the children through the perimeter.
To improve visibility around the front of the school, increase security and aesthetics, and while satisfying the sustainability requirements of the school, 42m of our bow top metal railings and three gates were installed. The hoop top design of the metal railings provides a decorative boundary conducive to a school environment; not creating a hostile or intimidating entrance. The strong, tubular, pale-through-rail construction allows clear visibility between the pales from the school office to the outside, which is ideal for safety and surveillance. The metal railings are hot dip galvanised to protect them from rust and corrosion, and for this school were polyester powder coated blue, providing a bright and attractive fence with a long-lasting finish. Two single leaf gates and a double leaf gate were also installed to match the metal railings, for access to the playground and to provide an entrance to the bin storage area. Spanning 4.4m wide, the double leaf gate provides safe pedestrian flow to and from the playground, and enough width for maintenance and emergency vehicles where required.
The fencing and gates were provided with our 25 year guarantee, fitting with the sustainability goals of the school.