DeCamp: The Life Of A Deputy Headteacher

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Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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This is a blog about packing up an entire school and moving to a 100% new building.

I will let the pictures do the talking..

DeCamp by @TeacherToolkit

Over the past week, we have decamped from our current school building. The current building was built in 1956. I have previously blogged about the logistical programme for moving 1300 students to another site and our school’s 150 year history here. Here you will hopefully understand the logistics of moving a school to a new building and the years of planning (and the countless individuals needed) behind the scenes to make this happen.


Walking around the school building a couple of weeks before the end of term, various parts of the building were already dismantled. Below, you can see some of the science benches being disassembled, leaving decades of chewing gum exposed!

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

Looking out from the highest floors in the current building, the new building is nearing completion.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

During the penultimate week, the last ever school performance took place in the school hall. The students and the Performing Arts department put on a great show; The Little Shop of Horrors.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing


Here is the first photograph I took of the process of packing my office. I have only been in this room for one term and had already accumulated 8 crates of resources. I filled 3 bags for the shredder and over 10 bags of rubbish!

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

By the end of day 2, the packing team were already on site and had started to wheel over the delicate ICT equipment. Despite the relaxed atmosphere and high-spirits, site security and data protection remained vital.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

Throughout the entire project, every office, classroom and cupboard was numbered according to the site plans and carefully translated into a simple coding system for staff and the packing team to follow. Below you can see the new school canteen. As this is on the ground floor, this was attached with a sticky, purple label and then a room number. For example, Purple 7 to indicate any boxes/furniture packed must be relocated to this location.

Quintin Kynaston floor plan

Here is a batch of my own stickers to relocate my current office resources to the new building location. Spare a thought for 200+ staff and over 3000 crates to be transported. This suddenly becomes a massive operation!

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

Any files with confidential information on, for example data and names/photographs, had to be bagged into the bags show below and sealed. These were left on the corridors for collection/shredding …

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

By the end of day 2, virtually all classrooms across the school has been dismantled, packed and cleaned.

The largest jobs remained in Art, Technology and Science.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

School corridors were transformed into avenues of crates …

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

Larger (shared) spaces, such as the diner, school hall, gymnasium and reception areas were much larger operations. As I have mentioned before, over 3,200 crates were needed to transport items to the new building. Keep in mind that this is what was selected to be moved.

Many more items were disposed, recycled and donated.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

Items we wanted to keep and transport were selected, stored and then washed. If you look at the image below, every canteen chair was washed individually. Displays were removed from the walls, as well as digital displays, clocks, speakers and wifi ports.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

As I walked the site, a few 1960 gems were revealed. As a technologist, this emergency stop button – originally operated by oil – was a lovely discovery in the technician’s prep. room.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

There were of course, many sad sights unfolding. Notably, the disposal of many outdated text books. This was for many reasons Elizabeth Truss. Outdated texts matched to curriculum plans; teaching to the textbook and lack of classroom creativity; books condemned to years of cover lessons and general wear and tear. I was keen to donate much of what I found to libraries, schools and charities …

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

Even the school farm animals were part of the move …

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

Mid-week, when most of the packing was complete, Science, Art and Technology continued to dismantle decades of resources hidden in preparation rooms. The items that were discovered in some areas were topics of conversation. In the image below, you may be able to see tables full of jars, beakers and glass bottles. A landscape of fascinating shapes unfolded, but many were full of chemicals no longer needed, or few in need of careful transportation.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

With no students on site, no ICT, no equipment or resources, there was very little to do in offices and classroom spaces. I used the valuable opportunity to read up on the new site plan, plan for the decamp on the other site and three days of staff development in the first week back after the break.

For my own CPD, I managed to squeeze in a chapter of Debra Kidd’s book.

Quintin Kynaston old building packing

New Building:

In the last day of term – and the last day of packing – we managed to get into the new building. It is not quite finished yet, as the site teams are securing the site, and completing fixtures and fittings; but it was the first time ever I was able to walk the building site without a hard hat and without any building contractors. I was free to think, imagine and plan.

Below you can see an image of our lecture hall which extends outside into a small amphitheatre. This will be a fabulous space for master-classes, lectures for 6th form, outside speakers, CPD events and even the odd teachmeet.

Quintin Kynaston new building

This is an image of one of our administrative offices. The building has been completed from top to bottom, so the offices up on the 5th floors are complete and furbished. The spaces on the ground floor will be completed over the holidays, hence the dirty floor space and lack of furniture.

Quintin Kynaston new building

The image below is a snapshot of my office space. It is located in the heart of the school, next to one of the playgrounds. It has a glass front door.

Quintin Kynaston new building

Here is a photo from the outside of my new office. Note the smaller attention to detail, such as the rooming code badge, the frosted glass window – although I’m not sure if this is just a protective film at this stage (I hope so) – the natural brick wall finish and the all important ledge for balancing books, coffee and resources as I travel to and fro.

Quintin Kynaston new building

Facing out of my office door, you can see the following two vantage points. This is the lower quad. To my left, is the main corridor entrance to the school. To the top-left, is the school canteen space with glass walls and Wagamama style furniture. Again, the attention to detail is lovely; for example, the marble-like finished pillars, the uplighting on the building walls during the evening and the bright white walls.

Quintin Kynaston new building

As I look ahead from my office, you can see the lower quad in full (below). This space will be used for students lining up to attend assembly. The assembly hall is on my right. Across from where I am standing is the administrative area on the ground floor for reception, finance and so forth. Above sits the design technology department, the library and support for students. To the front of the photo, the plans are to landscape this area with trees, picnic and table-tennis tables. I am already dreaming about eating a cheese sandwich on lunch duty in the summer term.

Quintin Kynaston new building

Of course, I couldn’t leave the access-all-areas building without taking a peak at the design technology spaces. Although not yet fully complete, the new food technology classroom is fantastic. Having spent the term teaching in a very small space, it is great to be back in a classroom space that meets the size for its demand.

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Following a tour of the classrooms, we stopped by the assembly hall space to check out the seating area for students. This is where the ethos for the school will be established. It is such an important space and I look forward to the day I deliver my first assembly, CPD session and teachmeet.


Opposite the hall and across from the lower quad, you enter our new school dining room. The images below are setup for a brief handover/celebration party between the school, Westminster Council and Bouygues, the building contractors. The space is full of glassed-walls, and painted in royal blue. There are digital screens and biometric points. The furniture is fresh and simple.

It’s a space I’d love to eat in as a student, so I hope our students will too.

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A panoramic image of the school canteen (not yet complete).


Back To Reality:

The day after the visit to the new building, we spent our last ever day in the soon-t0-be-demolished school building.

Here are a few barren shots of my office space.

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And another gem discovery I tweeted throughout the week. A Macintosh computer from the 1990s. Every design technology department is full of iconic objects/designs collected over the decades. I took a photograph of this, because I spent many hours writing/designing on one of these computers during my teaching-degree! I first touched one of these computers in 1993, so you can do the maths …


A final photograph of all my teaching world, packed up in crates. There is a mixture of teaching resources, staffing resources, such as reading books and of course, IT equipment and important files. They only need to be shipped 200 metres away, so I do hope to see them all in four weeks time in the correct location! What are the chances of one crate being misplaced from all the 3,200 the school has had to use to pack up?

Thank you to Pickfords and Wagstaff for ensuring the packing period was completed with no disruption to the school move, and on time.


In the final afternoon of term, despite having little or no furniture – or catering facilities – we still managed to gather staff for a end of term Christmas dinner. Table cloths covered examination tables, the final batch of chairs to be moved were distributed in tens and twelves around each table, and staff sat happily around crates and crates of items packed throughout the week.


Here are our marvellous catering team preparing our alternative Christmas dinner without having catering facilities available in the current school.


Thank you to Hummus Bros. for our Christmas lunch!



Here is our current kitchen, now closed down.


As staff entered the room, I collected old building keys as they will no longer be needed. There is also the possibility of recycling the locks and barrels in the new building if needed. An important commodity to ensure the smooth running of any school, with or without keypad/card access.


Phones and radios were also collected on the last day …


Staff sitting down for Christmas lunch in the old school hall.

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And as staff left to go home to their families and loved ones, staff were free to walk around the school building for one last time. I found a quiet moment to grab this selfie of me in the current school playground (quad) before departing the building. Over the past 50 years, there are so many memories in this school for staff, students, parents and visitors. I can only claim one terms worth of memories, but I hope it has been just as significant for the school, as it has been for me. They say a school building isn’t just a collection of bricks and mortar, but the values and the culture that exist within it.

I am confident that the school will eventually go on to even greater things in our new building. Thank you to all involved. Happy Christmas and a Happy New Year from all the staff and students at Quintin Kynaston School.


DeCamp by @TeacherToolkit

10 thoughts on “DeCamp: The Life Of A Deputy Headteacher

  1. WOW!! I can only imagine the feelings of all involved. Nostalgia to excitement to adventure. The planning seems to be on point for an organized easy move.
    When I think about all the materials amassed over time for teaching, especially when evolving as a teacher, there must have been an incredible amount of work done by all. Kudos to all the teachers involved.
    Enjoy your new space. I’m sure the children will love it.

  2. This takes me back- we did a decamp 5 years ago, first to a temporary site, and then two years later to our new building. I remember the corridors of crates, discoveries of artifices from the 100 year history of the school on that site, and donating hundreds of books to charities across the globe. We lost (and found) a few crates on the way! But on the whole everything worked out fine. Having spent time wrapping and packing the school. I hope you don’t have too many chrsitmas presents to wrap and pack too! Merry Christmas!

  3. QK was my school from ’77 to ’82! I am a teacher myself so really appreciate all that is going on in Marlborough Hill! Great pictures!

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