The population boom that saw Britain racing for primary places is about to hit our secondaries. According to Scape Group’s latest report on school places, more than 400,000 extra places will be needed by 2020/21, equating to over 13,300 new classrooms. Local authorities need to move fast, and as austerity continues to bite, Lungfish is using efficient design to get more school builds off the ground…
In recent years primary schools have been stretched to capacity. Meeting the need for places as our pupil population boomed has been a massive challenge. It’s one the Lungfish team has worked closely with schools, local authorities and academies to address.
Since 2013, we’ve helped provide more than 10,300 extra school places, in over 360 new classrooms. By adopting modular technologies and offsite construction, we’re continually building on our knowledge and ability to offer faster, more flexible solutions.
But the children of those boom years are growing up, and the school places problem is moving on. By the 2020/21 school year, they’ll be starting secondary school, and there’s already a major shortfall in available places. It’s not that schools don’t want to grow, or local authorities don’t want to build, it’s that the projects on the table just aren’t economically viable in the current climate.
We’re working hard to turn that around. Using the efficiencies of pre-designed, standardised buildings – and offsite construction – we’re making building and extending secondary schools more affordable. It’s about making the most of available budgets, driving efficiency in every detail and using tried-and-tested designs to get results for our clients, fast.
“Even without this boom, secondary schools are constantly needing to modernise and adapt to suit the way they teach children today,” explains Craig Taylor, Lungfish associate director. “On top of that, this spike in numbers is putting real pressure on schools and local authorities.”
In Bedford borough for example, being located within London’s commuter belt, a rapidly expanding community required new educational facilities. The completion of Wixams Tree Primary and Wixams Academy offer a combined total of 1,200 school places from nursery through to sixth-form.
We’re working with our partners and clients on secondary school projects across the UK, and our design team has a real appreciation of the challenges the education sector is facing. They’re harnessing some of the most efficient design strategies and building methodologies to meet those challenges and create new opportunities.
“What we’ve come up with is an inventive way to make secondary school design as inspiring and as cost effective as possible,” continues Craig. “So many projects don’t progress from the feasibility stage because the numbers don’t add up, so we’re using standardised grids and layouts to make these projects work on the tightest budgets.
“Our model celebrates the classroom as the most integral part of the school, and builds entire secondaries around multiples of this one, efficiently designed space. Classrooms can be stacked on top of each other to maximise capacity on smaller sites, and because all of this technical work has already been done, tried and tested, we’re ready to hit the ground running.
“Using offsite construction also means we can bring disruption to existing schools and neighbouring communities right down to a minimum. The site time really is incredibly fast – which means secondary schools and councils can react quickly to the places shortfall, and get ready for those boom years before they arrive.”
At Riseley C of E Primary School for example, to minimise disruption to the operating school, we made sure the new building was constructed during the evenings. The new eight-class extension was completed in 15 weeks and open in time for the new academic year.
“The efficiencies in our designs also help our clients create the kind of schools they can be proud of. By drilling down to the smallest detail, we can find room in the budget to make these learning environments attractive and inspiring – which is what every community wants for its children.”
If you’d like to find out more about Lungfish secondary schools, just get in touch with our team on 0333 210 1223 or click here.