Leighton Park School

Leighton Park School

“It is important to build a working relationship where both parties feel they can discuss works openly. This nurtures a feeling of inclusion with our outside contractor support network, of which SMS is a key part.”

Alan Rumney Estates Manager

Leighton Park School put SMS at the top of the class for service & maintenance provision.

Leighton Park School, Reading is a leading, values-led independent day & boarding school for girls & boys aged 11-18. Set in 65 acres of parkland, with 200 staff & over 500 pupils, the school’s property portfolio comprises 20 commercial buildings & 32 staff residential properties. The oldest building, suitably called Old School, was built in 1860 & is home to the beautiful school library, whilst the most recent is the 2019 Michael Malnick Centre for Music & Media.

SMS started working with Alan Rumney, Estates Manager, in 2013. At this stage, the work was limited to just the servicing & maintenance of the heating systems. This has now evolved & expanded to include 24/7 breakdown response & servicing of all the gas appliances, annual gas safety checks for the heating systems & specialist requirements for the science department gas supplies. It also incorporates the servicing & maintenance of all the air handling & air conditioning systems, breakdown & annual servicing of the building management systems along with, project management & installation of mechanical systems.

Echoing the Quaker values on which the school is based, Alan places a high value on honesty within any working relationship. “It is important to build a working relationship where both parties feel they can discuss works openly. This nurtures a feeling of inclusion with our outside contractor support network, of which SMS is a key part,” said Alan. There can also be specific problems when working in an education setting, as Alan explained; “These may be as simple as arranging access during the school day or far more difficult, for example when providing breakdown cover to a boarding house when students or residents are sleeping & trying to minimise noise so as not to not disturb them. We also have a music building that requires a constant temperature & humidity to keep the pianos & other instruments in perfect condition.”

One of the more recent projects undertaken by the SMS team was the refurbishment of the gymnasium boiler room. This involved the removal & disposal of the old gas boilers, stripping & restoring the floor, full redecoration & installing new, wall mounted gas boilers. Not only are the new boilers considerably more efficient but it has also freed up extra space in the room.

Like all of us, Leighton Park School has had to contend with the extra restrictions & additional requirements of life during a pandemic. “Throughout the pandemic, we were aware that the school had a requirement to meet all health & safety compliance requirements, even though this was more difficult;” said Terry Tarbox, Contracts Manager at SMS. Once the Government lifted its restrictions on onsite working we were swiftly back at the school to ensure that all equipment & systems that are our responsibility were serviced, maintained & in good working order, ready for the return of the students & staff.” “Their engineers were working in hot boiler rooms, wearing additional PPE to not only protect themselves but more importantly to protect the staff & employees here at the school, & they never once complained;” commented Rumney. All SMS staff working on educational sites have enhanced DBS clearance.

Recently, Leighton Park School has invested heavily in solar provision with four PV solar arrays across the park & is always looking at all options when replacing equipment. Energy efficiency is a key driver in the school’s goal of achieving a more sustainable way of living & working. Regular servicing & maintenance to ensure optimum operation is a key contributor to energy savings & efficiency for a site with such a mix of systems, ranging from the older mechanically driven systems to more modern, smart, digital driven systems.

Simplicity, truth, respect, integrity, peace, equality & sustainability are the Quaker values that remain at the heart of the school. Whilst it might not be immediately obvious in the day to day operations of a heating engineer, there is no doubt that the relationship that has been established between SMS & Alan & his team, combined with the unseen benefits that this has brought to both staff & pupils, is a true reflection of this ethos.


Southern Maintenance Solutions UK Ltd was founded over 30 years ago & since then has established itself as one of the leading providers of commercial heating, cooling & air handling installation & maintenance services in South East of England. It has had success in both the private & state education sectors, but also has long standing maintenance agreements with a range of commercial property managers for premises including various places of worship, gym facilities & office/manufacturing buildings. In addition to its core activities, engineers at the company are also qualified to handle the installation & maintenance of a range of complimentary systems including electrical systems, water treatment, commercial kitchens and commercial pipework installation. The company recognises the need to invest in its staff & currently has several apprentices working towards industry recognised qualifications.

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