How Alpha Plus Group have continued to supply a gold standard of education
Alpha Plus is a private education group providing a gold standard of education at 20 independent schools and colleges (19 in the UK).
Alpha Plus have a simple aim: they seek to give every child in their care the best possible start in life.
Back in January their senior management team were watching the progress of the Coronavirus pandemic closely and began planning for a UK outbreak; introducing measures to keep their pupils and staff safe and reduce the risk of the virus spreading.
They found there was an extra level of scrutiny around Health and Safety and looked to the UK Government for advice on ensuring they met their duty of care to their people and pastoral responsibility to their international students.
The situation developed rapidly, and when it became clear that education provision would close, their priority was the immediate implementation of online education.
While the majority of Alpha Plus schools were closed, a number remained open for the children of keyworkers including surgeons and journalists. To provide a safe environment for the children of keyworkers and in readiness for reopening, the schools engaged in an intensive deep cleaning programme, working closely with their cleaning contractors to ensure that adequate procedures and risk control measures were in place.
The team at Alpha Plus worked hard to ensure a robust remote learning program was rolled out, with their employees communicating using latest technology including Microsoft Teams and Zoom.
Meanwhile at the beginning of the summer term the schools continued to open for keyworker’s children at four of their locations. To accommodate this there were a handful of staff teaching in different classrooms and teaching spaces across the school to ensure social distancing was maintained along with regular sanitisation of touchpoints and further deep cleaning.
During the first half of the Summer term the government announced that Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 would return on the 01 of June and the Management team worked closely with their cleaning providers to implement new cleaning strategies and deep clean schedules.
The Director of Property at Alpha Plus Group, Richard Jones, said the team at Julius Rutherfoord & Co who have cleaned the St Anthony’s Prep Schools since 2013, Portland Place Schools since 2007 and Chepstow House School since 2018 were “flexible, accommodating, and willing” in introducing a process that gave peace of mind that the schools were COVID-19 secure.
Alpha Plus found themselves needing to rapidly build their knowledge of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and requiring a substantial amount to fulfil needs for the phased reopening of their schools. It was imperative that they worked with suppliers who were knowledgeable, had reliable supply chains and competent, well trained staff.
Julius Rutherfoord & Co have become Alpha Plus Group’s key supplier of PPE including hand sanitiser and sanitiser dispensers across their entire portfolio. This has allowed the Property team to concentrate on key activities including space planning, setting up directional way finding, safety signage and Perspex screens in staff and front of house areas.
With the latest government guidance stating only 25% of Year 10 and 12 pupils can return safely, the “new normal” is ever changing and working with trusted suppliers has been essential to enable the group to focus on landlord discussions, transport strategies, setting up a hardship fund and financial savings. Richard Jones said he "Couldn't do any of this without the excellent attitude of our fantastic partners such as JR&Co. Their patience, skill and tenacity have proven invaluable."
Alpha Plus Group want to share their appreciation for the flexibility shown by all of their service partners, from cleaning and catering to maintenance and servicing . These teams have continued to work professionally throughout the pandemic and have helped ensured no outbreaks at any of the Alpha Plus Schools.
Richard Jones summarised the Group’s journey so far stating: “If you work with great people, when the rules change and your environment changes you need skill, agility and flexibility to adapt to be right for your new needs."