Castleward Primary School

Sector: Education
Status: On site

The Castleward area of Derby city centre, close to the railway station and Intu Centre, is undergoing an extensive £100m housing-led regeneration scheme. More than 1,000 new homes will be built, creating an “urban village”. This is a priority project for Derby City Council, included in targets for both the City Centre Masterplan 2030 and the Derby City Local Plan.

With such a significant increase in population, more school places are required to service the new community, as well as improvements to highways and local amenities. A brownfield site, currently utilised as a car park, will soon be home to a new, one and a half-form entry primary school that will provide 315 pupil places and a 39-place nursery.

Procured through Scape Group’s Regional Construction framework and delivered by Morgan Sindall Construction, funding for the school is largely coming from Derby City Council, the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership, Homes England, and section 106 agreements. The new primary school will serve families from the new urban village and the wider local community.

Planning permission was granted in May 2020 with work due to begin on the school in the Summer of 2020, with completion expected by August 2021, in time for the new academic year – and we can’t wait to share progress with you when construction begins.

About the project

The site is small (a 5,200m² development area), almost half the size than that usually required for a school, which has significantly influenced the building design in order to provide the most efficient outcome whilst providing a playful, innovative and creative space.

As such, the building will be a mixture of one and two-storey blocks and will incorporate innovative play spaces on the rooftop areas and terraces. These play spaces will be fun and engaging and include an interactive playground with running track and a slide from the first floor to ground level. This approach will also allow the school to achieve more outdoor recreational space than the site would have traditionally allowed. The use of perimeter parapet walls, at a suitable height, has been included within the design to allow safe use of these roof areas, as well as a lift to provide access to the upper floors for those with disabilities.

The security of the school site and safeguarding of the pupils is paramount, particularly with its city centre location. With that in mind, the design and position of the building has been devised to optimise use of the land for the school and provide a clear, visible main entrance and secure line of sight to the building. Existing fencing and established hedgerows will be retained and enhanced to ensure a secure perimeter, with pedestrian access separated from vehicular access, minimising risk at drop-off and pick-up times.

Complementing the heritage of the local area, the school will be built using traditional construction techniques and feature a brick exterior. In addition, the building will sit back from the boundary, to appear unobtrusive to the existing neighbouring buildings and to the young pupils when entering the school.

Due to the restricted nature of the site, the main hall has been designed at the heart of the building. All ground floor classrooms will be accessed from this internal space, in turn freeing up the additional space required for internal circulation areas such as corridors and allowing for a more compact building footprint. This will also mean that more space can be utilised externally for outdoor play areas. The hall itself is designed as a lightwell, rising to the full height of the building, providing substantial natural daylight into the core of the building. The external windows and walls will rise above the first-floor roof play deck to flood classrooms and corridors at both first and ground floor level with light, whilst the provision of high-level windows will provide borrowed light to interior facing walls.

The sports hall will amplify a connection to nature, with the heart space of the school and its abundance of natural light, acoustic wall panels and a feature floor creating the appearance of looking into a tree canopy. Folding, sliding doors to the main hall will allow the room to open up and create a larger space for whole school assembly, group activities, indoor play and wider community use.


In all, the school will house 12 spacious classrooms and several ancillary facilities, across two floors. These will be ventilated to encourage an optimal learning environment and boast LED lights with daylight dimming, to maximise the use of natural light where available. A shared hall and studio library spaces at the heart of the school will create a central learning area, allowing classes to showcase their work and allow for one-to-one support or small group work.

Internally, the design manifests around colour and its application to create an inspiring educational environment. Taking cues from the brick detailing and its context of a dense urban setting, green and blue palettes, elements of biophilic design and colour psychology ensure the spaces connect with nature.

"The ground floor interiors will be a variety of greens which create a nurturing, calm and engaging atmosphere, improving efficiency, focus and long-term concentration, whilst the first floor will be blue, creating playful and friendly tones for the primary school which promote productivity and offer a slightly mature base, preparing pupils for progression to secondary school."

Craig Taylor, Associate Director

Utilising the rooftops as an extension to the external hard play area will not only address the relatively small nature of the site, but also create a sense of progression through a child’s school life. It is intended that infants will have use and access to the first-floor play deck, with junior pupils use of the second-floor play space. This will also allow the school to achieve the necessary outside space required and reduce the impact of having smaller sports facilities.

Additionally, in order to maximise the efficiency of the school’s recreational space, the landscaping will feature a multi-use games area which will facilitate the playing of team games including netball, basketball and football and individual games such as tennis.