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A Lesson in Moving Schools

Just like families and businesses, educational establishments also outgrow their homes, finding themselves having to brave a move to new premises from time to time. Whether your school or college is temporarily relocating a single department during renovations or permanently moving to a bigger, more modern or better equipped building, you’ll need a lot of help getting staff, students and equipment from A to B.

It’s a daunting job but unlike families and businesses which usually have to move lock, stock and barrel in one or two days, schools and colleges at least have a bigger window of opportunity. Thanks to school holidays, students are often out of the picture for weeks at a time, leaving teaching staff and site managers to deal with the mammoth task in relative peace.

That six-week break in the summer is the perfect opportunity to get the project completed in time for the new term. Not to say that it’s going to be easy – the sheer size of the job means that it will be all hands on deck to move what is effectively a small town. It at least provides you with more time to plan and prepare and gives you a little leeway if the odd challenge should arise. But school holidays are also the busiest time for residential and commercial moves so taking charge as soon as possible – by recruiting a crate supplier and removals firm, for example – could help you enjoy a little of the school holidays yourself.

While there are many things that you’ll have to delegate there’s also a lot that you, and your fellow staff members, can do to reduce stress levels and ensure that everyone can enjoy the summer, Easter or Christmas break.  So, for teachers and caretakers facing a school or classroom move over a school break, there’s no such thing as too much preparation. We’re here to help set you on the right road and focus your efforts on what you can (and should) be doing.

Obviously, there’s a limit to how much you can do before the end of term, but we know you’ll want to be as organised as you’ve been for the rest of the school year so, here are a few things to include on your checklist:

  • A Good Removal Firm – this might be a company retained by the Local Education Authority or you might have the autonomy to be able to recruit your own removal experts. If this is the case, get several quotes and be sure to ask for references, especially from those who have recently completed a school move of similar magnitude. Make sure that they are using good quality containers, like phs Teacrate removal crates, and if not, point them in our direction!

Check the removal company’s credentials too. They’ll need to be DBS checked if working on school property and additional reassurance can be ensured by membership of the British Association of Removers which enforces standards and procedures, while also acting as a resolution service for any disputes.

  • Task Team - you’ll also need to create an internal group – perhaps a staff member from each department – who will be able to tell you exactly what needs moving from their area of the school and make observations that you may have overlooked. Don’t forget that two (or more) heads are better than one when it comes to moving a school, or anything else for that matter.

And don’t forget to notify staff, parents and pupils of the move, when it will be happening and the new location.

  • Boxes – no one ever says that they’ve got too many boxes! One recent secondary school move involved over 2,000 boxes and 400 heavy duty crates. And it’s not just quantity, it’s quality. Are your cardboard boxes robust enough to hold textbooks or rigid enough to protect technical equipment?

Free cardboard boxes collected from supermarkets or old containers you have floating around at home can be flimsy, especially when tasked with the job of transporting heavy text books or school equipment. Double-walled boxes are far sturdier but might cost you more than you think, especially when you include the cost of tape and the time you’ll spend folding, sticking and padding.

phs Teacrate has a range of re-usable plastic crates that are sure to fit the bill, all available on a rental basis so, unlike cardboard boxes, you won’t have to worry about disposing of them at the end of the move. Simply let us know when you’re done, and we’ll come and collect them. Of course, if you want to use our crates as permanent storage, you’re welcome to buy them too!

  • Helping Hands – another thing that you can’t have too many of! Older pupils can be a great help, as can fellow teaching and office staff. You could even recruit a few helpful parents of pupils, or your own family members.

If you use carboard boxes, you’ll have to run through the taping routine with your volunteers to ensure that bottoms of boxes won’t fall out en route. And whether you’re using crates or boxes, you should brief everyone on the maximum loading weight and correct lifting techniques, to help keep them safe. While it shouldn’t be a worry for plastic crates, this imposed weight limit could help to prevent an overloaded cardboard box from bursting at the seams.

  • Seize the Day – Make good use of the chance for a clear out. Donate books that haven’t been used for a while and bin/recycle broken or outdated equipment. It’ll save on the transportation and/or storage costs.

If you discover good quality furniture or equipment that won’t be travelling with you to the new classrooms, take the opportunity to make a few pounds by selling them on eBay or Gumtree. Any profits will surely be put to good use once the move is complete.

  • Be Properly Equipped – Always keep Health and Safety in mind – your back is just not worth the risk! As well as advising helpers on correct loading (see above), you can contact suppliers such as phs Teacrate to provide handling equipment, such as skates, sack barrows or stair climbers on a sale or rental basis.

It’s also important to make sure that you have the right containers, including specialist IT Crates for PCs and flat screen monitors, and Lidded Metre Crates which have the perfect dimensions for lever arch files. Our smallest, 25-litre Personal Crates are handy for packing the desk contents of individual teachers, while our 54-litre Stair Crates are the ideal size for carrying on stairs, into lifts and down narrow corridors.

When the need arises, we can also cater for transporting larger equipment with our 130-litre Lidded Crate, LC6.

For additional convenience, phs Teacrate sells all of the usual moving consumables, such as tape, bubble wrap, blankets and packing paper that will help to keep school equipment and books safe on their travels.

  • Easy Access – packing could start months before the move, meaning that you have to store boxes or crates for a while. If this is the case, bear in mind that loaded plastic crates stack much easier and more sturdily than cardboard boxes.

Store packed boxes or crates for any length of time and you’ll have to make sure that your most used items can be easily accessed in boxes that are at the front or top of the stack. Even the best planned relocations can be delayed, meaning you’ll need to use some of the equipment before you can move into your new classroom or school. In this case, you may well find phs Teacrate’s lidded crates easier to access and reseal than taped cardboard boxes.

Our hard wearing, plastic removal boxes come in various sizes, with or without lids – from personal crates to metre crates; computer crates and file crates. We’ve even got library trollies to allow easy access to books throughout the moving period.

Cardboard boxes are easily stored in their flat form so you can keep them to hand, folding and packing them as and when you have the time. While crates are a little bulkier to store, they are designed to be nested so may not take up as much room as you think. For maximum convenience, let phs Teacrate store the empty crates for you. Simply let us know when you want them, and we’ll have the crates with you the next day. Our porter service will ensure that they are delivered to the exact part of the building where they are needed so you aren’t spending valuable time tracking them down and transporting them from one end of the building to the other.

  • Labels, Labels and More Labels – make sure you know what’s in each box and have indicated its planned destination. It’ll be best to write directly onto the cardboard boxes as labels may peel off. Use something permanent that won’t run in the rain, fade in the sun or curl in the heat.

To ease any concerns about lost crates, phs Teacrate’s containers are barcoded and can be linked to a database that not only describes the destination of the crate, tracking it at various checkpoints along the way, but also catalogues its contents. Monitored by a free smartphone app, the system gives each crate its own identity, with barcodes being scanned at key stages of their journey, so whether you’re at school or at home, you’ll be able to see where and when each one is delivered.

  • Cross Fingers – by meticulously managing the packing and co-ordinating volunteers and external providers, you’ve done all you can, now it’s down to the removals experts… and the weather. A bit of rain won’t be a problem if you’re using sturdy plastic crates.

Keep communication open at either end of the move and ensure that any delays are communicated as soon as possible as this could have a knock-on effect with other suppliers. If you’re using the phs Teacrate barcode app, you’ll be receiving regular (and re-assuring) updates on the progress of the transfer.

  • Keep Calm! Your new classroom/school/college isn’t going anywhere and all the preparation that you’ve made will have you in good stead. After co-ordinating the relocation, unpacking will seem like a dream and once you’re settled, this moving story will be nothing but a distant memory.

Even with our list of tips, you might still feel a bit overwhelmed. That’s understandable. With superschools now catering for up to 2,000 pupils, moving is a really big job. That’s why phs Teacrate offers an Advance Planning Service, where we’ll meet with you at the very early stages of the move and use over 35 years of experience to help you figure out which crates you need, and when and where you’ll need them.

As the Government plugs away at the Priority School Building Programme (PSBP) the school or college relocation scenario is becoming more common.  Whether your classroom equipment is going into temporary storage so that work can be completed on the building or the whole school is moving to new premises, packing up and moving out can require army-like precision.

So, at the times when all over the country, children are looking forward to holiday fun and games, we spare a thought for the teacher, caretaker or site manager planning to squeeze a school move into what should be a well-deserved break.

We hope that we’ve pointed out that you don’t need to struggle with some of the finer details. You can still give yourself an A* in removals by using reliable, flexible suppliers, like phs Teacrate and drafting in colleagues to share the load. While we can’t help with the packing, we can deliver all the moving crates and packaging you’ll need (with as little as one day’s notice) so that teaching aids, books and files can all be safely packed away, ready for transportation to their new or temporary home. And when the job’s done, we’ll collect all the crates from their destination, whenever and wherever that may be.

As a member of the British Association of Removers ourselves, we’re happy to co-ordinate with your removals firm and also offer the additional re-assurance of ISO 9001:2000 Quality Management Systems and ISO 14000 Environmental Standards. All of this should add confidence for the LEA, governors, parents and any one else eager to see that your school moving project is a success.

Once you’ve used phs Teacrate’s products, we know you’ll realise just how useful they are for storing and moving equipment throughout the whole academic year, so you’ll be glad to hear that we’re also able to supply everything in our range on a purchase basis, as well as rental.

If you’re looking for crates and equipment that will help you make light work of packing up your school, take a look at our bundle packages here.