Kestrel helping Canterbury schools get back on their feet

  • April 14, 2013
  • Newsletters

The two ‘David’s’ from Kestrel Group have been busy assisting the Ministry of Education with several aspects of the recovery of its property portfolio following the Canterbury earthquakes. David Middleton is assisting the Ministry to navigate its way through its insurance complexities while Dave Brunsdon is heading up the Ministry’s Engineering Strategy Group to ensure the school network meets appropriate standards of safety.

Over 200 schools were damaged as a result of the earthquakes. Immediate action by the Ministry of Education and Boards of Trustees was as much focused on maintaining educational services as in dealing with damage. So relocatable classrooms were trucked in, staff and pupils were doubled up in the less affected schools and temporary repairs were done to keep facilities open.

Running a school network is a dynamic business, with ever-changing demographics altering classroom space requirements at different schools. One of the features of the Canterbury event has been the redistribution of population and the Ministry of Education has had to react to, and anticipate, this as it adjusts its network to cope with the new realities. Much of the outcome has been publicised in the news media with the closure or amalgamation of schools as the Ministry seeks to configure its network of education assets to best serve changing communities.

While dealing with this, the Ministry has also been negotiating with insurers. Ministry-owned school buildings are insured under one centralised policy. The Ministry’s claim is very complex due to the number of schools involved, the types of policy cover, and the fact that there were several damaging earthquake events. The combined claim comprises one of the most complex to arise from the earthquakes with nearly all the features that have bedevilled the insurance industry as it tries to handle sometimes unprecedented problems of policy coverage. That’s where David Middleton, an expert in the insurance field, has been engaged to assist the Ministry as it works its way through the issues.

Another part of the Ministry’s challenge, thrown down by the Canterbury event, is the standard of engineering design and construction now required to ensure the safety of those who use school facilities. Schools are special places, in their construction, use and position in the community. Dave Brunsdon has assisted the Ministry to establish a three person Engineering Strategy Group, which he chairs. This group is providing a technical focal point for a range of property and policy activities.

Kestrel is helping the Ministry to optimise its insurance claim and to ensure its school network meets the new standards of safety. Ministry staff are having to balance meeting insurers’ requirements, working through emerging engineering standards and applying them to a specialist kind of building while keeping schools operating. They are committed to overcoming these difficulties and are working long and hard to ensure that the educational needs of the Canterbury community continue to be met.