Exhibition company solves problem of educating kids while socially distancing

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A Midland exhibition company has created a classroom designed to help schools across the UK manage a safe return to education after the summer holidays.

The new classroom – designed by Sovereign Exhibitions, based in North Warwickshire – can accommodate up to 32 children at a social distance of 1.4 metres and a teacher at 2.3 metres, and can be installed on site in less than a day.

Sovereign classroom-22The classrooms are delivered to site, wheeled into the position, fully installed and come complete with fixed desks, hand-sanitiser units and hygienic hard surfaces.

Sovereign, which has more than 25 years’ experience in the exhibition industry, decided to branch into education after reports that schools would not be able to return to normal teaching for months and that traditional buildings made enforcing Covid-19 safety measures at times impossible.

The new classroom has now won the backing of North Warwickshire MP Craig Tracey and sparked a stream of enquiries from all levels of education.

Vincent McCullagh, Managing Director of Sovereign, said the company’s skills and experience meant it took just three weeks from conception to producing a fully workable model, and the firm could produce 40 a week.

He said: “My wife and I have three children and we run a company – so we are fully aware of how hard it is to juggle education and working and there is no question that it will be hard for the economy to recover until children are fully back to school.

“We have been designing and creating temporary buildings for almost 20 years so we are in a position to try to make that process easier for education authorities and teachers.

Sovereign classroom-21“It took us just three weeks to design and build the first classroom and we felt it was imperative to have a fully working model for people to experience and the reaction has been extremely encouraging.

“The classroom meets all the relevant Covid-19 safety standards.  It features hard floors and fixed desks as well as full heating and ventilation and can be connected to the mains power so is far more suitable than other solutions such as marquees and containers.

“In fact, several people have commented that it is far better suited to modern education than many of the permanent classrooms being used!”

The local MP was one of the first to see the new classroom in operation and believes it could prove invaluable for schools as they organise a full return to teaching after the summer break.

Tracey said: “I have been really impressed not only in the way Sovereign has turned its skills to help solve what is a very real problem impacting the whole country – but also in the quality of what has been produced.

“I believe it is a very realistic and viable option for schools who are making preparations to return safely to a full programme of education.

“I will certainly be letting our local authorities know about the solution and recommending they come and experience it for themselves. I will also be feeding the information back to other MPs and education contacts at Westminster.”

Sovereign, which designs and builds exhibition and events stands and structures in the UK and internationally from its headquarters at Arley, has been severely impacted by the Covid-19 outbreak.

McCullagh added: “Since the beginning of March, we have seen around £2.5 million of revenue wiped off our books and there is really no end in sight until Government give the go-ahead for exhibitions to resume.

“Realistically I think the industry will only start to get back on its feet in the New Year and it has been very hard for companies in the sector because that uncertainty makes it extremely hard for them to access support.”