Education, News

The TESA Consortium: Successfully Navigating Unique $240 Million Education Project


Sarah Constructions, as part of the TESA Consortium, was engaged by the South Australian Department for Education to deliver two new “birth to year 12” (B-12) schools in the Angle Vale and Aldinga regions of outer metropolitan Adelaide. The $240M SA Schools Public Private Partnership (PPP) is a complex project involving multiple teams and stakeholders.

The TESA Consortium comprises Sarah Constructions, Tetris Capital, DIF Capital Partners and ISS Services Australia. Sarah Constructions is the Design and Construct Contractor responsible for the delivery of the two schools.

The two new Schools, Riverbanks College B-12, Angle Vale and Aldinga Payinthi College, are part of a major program to establish best practice school infrastructure across South Australia, to enhance South Australia’s reputation as a destination for capital investment and contribute to the state’s economic growth.

Deb O’Riley, Director New Schools at Department for Education, said, “The new schools are part of the state government’s $1.4b investment into creating world-class education infrastructure across the state.”

“It’s great that we’ve been able to engage Sarah Constructions, a South Australian company, to help us build state-of-the-art facilities in our schools” said Ms O’Riley.

Each school is designed to accommodate 1,500 students, 100 special school students and a 75-place children’s centre (totalling 1,675 places), along with 211 teaching and support staff. The schools will be master-planned to accommodate a future capacity of up to 2084 students.

The schools include facilities for students, teachers, parents and the wider community.  Each site will provide pre-school and long day care services, along with OSHC programs. Both schools will include performing arts theatres, libraries and entrepreneurial hubs, VET kitchen and on-site cafeteria, Primary and Secondary gym facilities, dual purpose soccer and hockey fields and full size AFL ovals.

To accommodate the new schools, there is also significant transport infrastructure upgrade works occurring in both regions, including the construction of new roads and intersections.

Sarah’s Project Director, Ben Layley, said that it’s been an exciting project for him, involving numerous moving parts and all at considerable scale. “It’s been rewarding to be involved since the Bid phase, acting as a conduit and facilitator between the different parties. We’ve been heavily involved in the design process upfront, then all the way through with ongoing communication to now, the final build stages.”


Two Sites, One Project

Communication and expert project management has been key to the success of this project. The requirement to deliver two consistent schools, at different ends of outer metropolitan Adelaide, both going live at the same time, was a major undertaking. The Sarah team was led by Project Director, Ben Layley with Paul Marino, Senior Project Manager on the Aldinga site and Luke Ferme, Senior Project Manager at the Angle Vale site.

“It’s been challenging to manage the consistencies across both sites. We have needed to create new systems and processes to manage this. Regular communication was key to achieving good outcomes,” said Luke.

Paul agreed, “Angle Vale and Aldinga are different project sites and needed to be managed as such but from a client level, they have the same delivery requirements. From windows to paint finishing, the level of detail across the two projects is something I hadn’t experienced before.

Sarah rose to this challenge and executed this well. We had a central design team that worked through the details across both projects to ensure consistent detail. From a site perspective, we have very stringent inspection and test plans implemented, to ensure design intent was achieved across both sites.”

Deb O’Riley said it’s been the “frequent and reliable communication” from Sarah that has allowed them to provide ongoing updates to multiple teams and stakeholders, ultimately facilitating the success of the builds.

Project Progress: From North To South

Both sites are now moving into the final project stages in readiness for handover prior to opening in 2022 for the new school year. At Aldinga, Paul explained that the buildings are currently in different stages of completion. “We’re coming into final commissioning and full fit-out for 5 of the buildings. Externally we’re starting to pour concrete, build garden beds, lay turf on the oval, bitchumise carparks and install canopy structures. This is a very active stage of the project with lots of different trades on site.”

At the Angle Vale site, they’re currently progressing through external works, including concreting play areas, putting finishing touches to buildings and taking delivery of furniture. “At times, we’ve had over 300 people on-site working. It’s positive seeing that many people work together – this project has provided a lot of opportunity for people in construction, which is especially rewarding in these challenging Covid times” said Luke.

Riverbanks College interior architecture

Delivering Education Outcomes And Community Benefits

Careful consideration for learning outcomes and wider community integration were included in the design and development of the two schools. “The contemporary design of these beautiful schools have been well planned with a big focus on indoor/outdoor connectivity” said Ms O’Riley.

Alison Colbeck, Principal Aldinga Payinthi College explained “this site has been built to provide a full opportunity for contemporary learning. We understood that the best learning environments are collaborative and not just within four walls, and that’s what has been designed and is now being built. Our pedagogical approach has been developed through use of space and has been informed by the build process.”

At both sites, the school builds include funding from Local Government to increase the size of onsite sporting facilities and provide the opportunity for ongoing community use. The schools have established Community Coalition groups, with Council and community representatives. “We’re working with this group to identify areas of need and opportunities to work with and support community groups. It’s a true partnership approach with mutually beneficial outcomes to really engage with the school site” said Ms Colbeck.

“I’m very excited and thrilled about the opportunity. To see this sort of investment in our community – this school will be incredibly beneficial; from the level of educational excellence we will deliver through to the broader, positive outcomes for the community. They haven’t just built a school, they’ve built a facility that’s for everyone” said Ms Colbeck.

A Step Forward For Sarah

As Project Director, Mr Layley is proud of how the Sarah team have worked together. “The way the whole business has rallied together to deliver two large projects, in terms of the sheer scale and at the same time, whilst also delivering other significant projects, including the $100M project at Whyalla, has been incredibly impressive. Across the board, Sarah has stepped up, to scale up.”

The success of the SA Schools PPP project symbolises another step forward for Sarah Constructions as a business. The ability to deliver larger value projects, while simultaneously managing other significant construction projects, signifies Sarah’s maturation and opens the door for more large scale, multi-site design and construct projects in the future.

To learn more about our capability or the SA Schools PPP project, contact us today.

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