GastroNorth Ltd have recently completed a £425k design and installation project at the Monkwearmouth Academy School and Sixth Form College in Sunderland.

The Monkwearmouth Academy, which reached Academy status in 2013 following excellent OFSTED results, tasked the GastroNorth team with a complete redevelopment of their current catering facilities, one which would revamp the current kitchen and associated foodservice areas.

GastroNorth Director, Tim Whitfield, said: “The brief was to take the existing kitchen and servery and complete a full refurbishment to meet the school’s high standards, creating a space which would be capable of feeding the academy’s 1200 plus students and staff on a daily basis – whilst also improving the aesthetics and throughput of the current foodservice area.”

“Our design team at GastroNorth put together a proposal which would modernise the academy’s current facility, which at the time was just an evolved version of the original kitchen area, and although it was clean and practical, it lacked the functionality and style which should be present in all modern education facilities.”

Once the initial design proposal had been agreed, GastroNorth were then tasked with completing the installation during the annual school summer shutdown, providing a six-week window for refurbishment works to be undertaken.

The GastroNorth projects team set up site once the kitchen was handed over by the school, temporarily closing the area which allowed it to be stripped in its entirety. From here, the installation commenced, which included: new mechanical and electrical services, a complete ventilation system, internal stud partition wall, hygienic walls and floor coverings, a new roof and an external access ramp.

All new kitchen and servery equipment was also installed with GastroNorth calling in leading suppliers such as Unox, Rational/Frima, RS Vent, CED Fabrications and more in order to provide high specification equipment for the academy.

“It is always a challenge to complete so much work in such a short space of time,” said Tim. “The school holidays are really the only time when facilities like Monkwearmouth Academy can undertake such projects, but it is also one where staff and sub-contractors have reduced labour due to to holidays.

“Despite this, our team and those working with us were able to complete the redevelopment of Monkwearmouth Academy’s kitchen and foodservice areas on-time, allowing us to handover to the happy customer before the start of the new school year.”

The school had been fitted with a lot of new cooking technology, so GastroNorth were also pleased to welcome the catering team from Monkwearmouth Academy to the firm’s onsite development kitchen, the GastroLab, which can be found at the head office on the Team Valley trading Estate, Gateshead. Here, the academy staff were able to train on the key appliances, allowing them to be prepared ahead of time as the project was being handed over on the last day of the school holidays.