To meet the increasing need of the local communities, there was a requirement to increase capacity at the school. So, through the construction of a new early years’ standalone block, 120 extra places were created.
The academy’s aim was to be a centre of excellence in the trust's delivery of exceptional early years provision, best practice and training. Therefore, the new purpose-built facility was developed entirely for mixed nursery and reception aged pupils at foundation stage learning.
As well as providing a facility for children, another aim was to provide an opportunity for collaborative working with families in the community, as well as a training facility for early years practitioners in other local settings and further afield.
The project was to be constructed over two phases. Phase 1 which was completed in March 2018 was to build two classrooms, an activity area and toilets to accommodate 60 pupils. Liaising efficiently and effectively across teams, Concertus was able to take the client and end users ideas and bring them to life.
As the school is located within the Yoxford Conservation Area, and following consultation with the school, residents and planners, it was apparent that a flat roof proposal would not be acceptable. Also neighbouring properties are located close to the boundary, so a pitched roof solution would have been too large in terms of scale and massing. A valley roof was therefore developed to reduce the overall scale of the new block. This design also provided an opportunity to have some fun with the elevations, matching materials and proposing splashes of colour to liven up the external learning spaces.
As the new block was adjacent to the hard play area, features were carefully detailed such as hidden gutters and downpipes, to help reduce future maintenance costs to the school. The block is heated with an air source heat pump and was designed so it could be easily adapted for a future extension.
The new building is a centre of excellence for the Consortium Multi-Academy Trust, providing local early years provision and a training centre for staff. The new modern facility contains collaborative and stimulating spaces for early years children. The teaching spaces feature a large whiteboard wall which has proven to be an effective learning tool.
Externally, the building has been cleverly positioned and designed to make the most of the small space and to retain as much outdoor play space as possible. External works to the existing site has helped the school to gain even more space in comparison with what they had before. Although the new modern block is in keeping with its Victorian surroundings, incorporating pitched roofs has helped it to blend in seamlessly and the clever use of colour and materials creates the illusions of a smaller building.
Internally, the building benefits from advanced spatial design thinking, using colours to identify spaces. The floor finishes in the classrooms and activity area also helps to identify different areas within the space i.e. teaching, wet play, food preparation etc. The vibrant colours create a welcoming and inspiring space for early years and staff and the interior design incorporates elements from the external design to create a harmony between the two.
To reduce energy consumption and reduce glare, the interior benefits from Daylight Dimming making the most of natural light where possible, and automated roof lights that close upon the detection of rain. The vaulted ceilings help to make the space feel spacious and light.
As there were multiple stakeholders involved in the project, there was regular liaison with the end user, contractor and client to ensure that all were kept fully informed throughout. This resulted in everyone working in synergy to achieve the best result.
Whilst the centre will be staffed by highly qualified and experienced early years practitioners, the academy trust is also looking forward to supporting higher education schemes such as Apprenticeships, School Centred Initial Teacher Training and Post Graduate Certificate in Education placements.
“I am delighted to see the project come to fruition. The centre provides a fabulous environment for pupils to develop independence, confidence, flexibility and positive attitudes to life learning which starts in the very earliest stages of their academic life.” Gail Jerman, Academy Head of Yoxford and Peasenhall Primary School