For Stowupland High School, the SEND unit is a two-classroom block, with two group rooms, a break-out space, accessible toilet, cleaners store, unisex WC, external spaces for each classroom including canopies, and car parking for staff.
The building’s external façade consists of black timber cladding, as well as black aluminium windows and doors, with a mono-pitched roof, both of which were chosen to ensure the new facility was in keeping with the existing school. The external landscaped areas make use of sensory planting for the SEND students, to allow for outdoor learning. Appropriate fencing and gates were also installed to ensure the area was secure for the SEND pupils.
The interior design of the new unit was carefully designed to ensure it was appropriate for the end users. This considered the sensory needs of the pupils, ensuring there were no flashing lights or exposed elements which could upset or cause harm to the children. Neutral tones were used throughout, and additional acoustic insulation was incorporated to provide a suitable learning environment for SEND pupils.
The material specification ensured that robust materials were used throughout to improve the integrity of the building and reduce the need for additional maintenance. A heating and cooling system was installed to the classrooms taking into consideration the sensory needs of the future pupils by ensuring it was specially designed to make minimal noise.
Throughout the programme some challenges were faced as a result of long lead times due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit. The team remained in constant contact with the client, contractors, and suppliers to find solutions where possible and ensure all were kept appropriately informed throughout. This helped ensure that the impact to the programme was mitigated as far as possible. This resulted in finding alternative materials of similar costs to ensure we could still meet the client’s deliverables. The programme faced some delays in the early stages of the project because of delays with the planning process, which impacted the completion date of the programme. To alleviate this delay, the team worked closely with the client to find alternative provision for pupils for the start of the school term so that learning would not be affected.
The works were carried out on a live school site. Therefore, it was vital to make sure the project was effectively co-ordinated to prevent any impact to the day-to-day activity of the school and keep staff and pupils safe throughout. The project manager liaised between the contractor and client throughout, holding regular progress meetings so any issues could be communicated and actioned appropriately. The high school remained in full operation throughout the works, ensuring there was no impact to the students’ learning.