Upgrading school buildings in need

A further fifty schools have been confirmed for the government’s ten-year rebuilding programme, which seeks to invest in schools in England in the worst condition. We look at some of the new schools chosen and get an update on building projects selected in the first round of funding

The School Rebuilding Programme, which was launched in June 2020, aims to deliver 500 rebuilding projects over the next decade.

The first 50 projects were confirmed in February 2021, supported by over £1 billion in funding, and now the second 50 projects have been announced, which included primary, secondary and special and alternative provision schools.
The rebuilds and refurbishments will create modern education environments, providing new facilities from classrooms and science labs, to sports halls and dining rooms. The new school buildings will also be net-zero carbon in operation.
Funding for individual projects in the School Rebuilding programme will be determined when the scope and delivery plans at each school are developed. Projects will range from replacing or refurbishing individual buildings through to whole school rebuilds.
The most advanced projects from the first round of the programme will begin construction in autumn 2021, and the majority of the confirmed projects are expected to complete within three to five years.

Investment in Kent

Four schools in Kent have been chosen to be on the rebuilding programme. Orchards Academy is one of them, after local MPs and school and council leaders ran a campaign to improve the school.    
Laura Trott MP, who formed part of the campaign, says she lobbied the then education secretary Gavin Williamson and minister Baroness Berridge to raise the case for Orchards. A petition was presented in the House of Commons calling for the site in St Mary’s Road to be rebuilt and was signed by 1,333 people.
Speaking on the announcement, Trott said: “I am delighted. I know from my visits just how urgently repair is needed, and it has been wonderful to see the local community truly getting behind this campaign.
“The pupils and teachers of this school deserve a safe and inspiring building in which to learn. I am over the moon the government has listened to our campaign and will rebuild Orchards Academy.”
The other schools in Kent to receive funding are St Mary’s Primary, Pilgrim’s Way Primary and Wrotham School.

Much needed funding

Burnt Mill Academy in Harlow, Essex, is another school that has been selected for a rebuild as part of the programme.
Commenting, Ms Helena Mills CBE, CEO of BMAT EDUCATION, said: “We are delighted that Burnt Mill Academy has been chosen as one of the next 50 schools to be rebuilt through the Department for Education’s Schools Rebuilding Programme.
“This is fantastic news for our pupils, staff and the wider community in Harlow. This much-needed investment, in an area of high deprivation, will enable all of our children to learn in modern purpose-built school designed for 21st century learning.”
Trinity Academy Bradford, has also been chosen to have their school rebuilt. A spokesperson for the school said: “Trinity Academy Bradford are excited to announce that we have been selected by the Government as part of their national School Rebuilding Programme.
“This means that the school buildings will be replaced or refurbished providing modern, state of the art facilities from classrooms and science labs, to sports halls and dining rooms.
“We are excited for the students of Trinity Academy Bradford to finally receive the world class facilities that they deserve. Next steps will be announced soon.”
Spon Gate Primary School in Coventry has been included in the latest 50 schools to benefit from the programme.
Cllr Kindy Sandhu, cabinet member for education and skills, said: “We are thrilled that Spon Gate Primary has been included in the second phase of the Government’s School Rebuilding Programme.
“It means Spon Gate Primary School will be rebuilt/refurbished, providing modern, sustainable, energy efficient education provision, supporting teachers to deliver a high-quality education.
“This project is another example of investment into Coventry’s schools for the benefit of our children.”
Another school selected for a rebuild is Little Reddings in Bushey. Oliver Dowden, Hertsmere MP and Culture Secretary, said: “It is fantastic news that Little Reddings Primary School has been selected as one of the next 50 schools to be improved through our rebuilding programme.

“I am committed to ensuring that our children receive the education they deserve and this announcement will mean that the staff at Little Reddings Primary have the facilities they need to teach the next generation of Bushey children.”

Progress for the first rebuilds

After being chosen to have a rebuild in the first round of the funding, Littleborough Community Primary School in Rochdale has submitted plans for a replacement building, which proposes to demolish the old building and build a two-storey building with 14 classrooms, a library and multi-use games area.
It has been designed to be one of the first ‘net-zero carbon in operation’ primary schools in the country, with measures including the use of high efficiency air source heat pumps, natural ventilation and LED lamps.
Work at the three-acre site is to be carried out in phases to minimise disruption and allow the school to continue to run as normal.
St John Fisher Catholic High School in Wigan was also chosen for a rebuilding in the first round of funding. The school is awaiting planning approval for a new three-storey teaching block and sports hall, as well as new multi-use games areas, car parking, and hard and soft landscaping works to improve access across the site.
It is hoped that planning approval will be secured in December and building work will begin in January. The new school should be completed by September 2024. Construction firm Wates has created a virtual walk through of the building. Headteacher Alison Rigby said: “We are so excited to see the plans, especially the animated tour where the new school looks amazing!
“This is such a fantastic opportunity for the school, creating innovative teaching and learning spaces and raising aspirations across the community.
“This new-build project will boost our curriculum offer and provide fantastic facilities in which our learning community will continue to flourish.
“Just watching the animated tour brings the new developments to life and hopefully this will help our young people feel even more and invested in and – ultimately - loved.”

Rossendale high school has put forward proposals for the whole school to be demolished with the exception of the Sports Hall which is to be retained without any alterations.
A new L-shaped building will accommodate the teaching block, school hall, dining areas and staff offices. The building will vary in height between two to three storeys with a flat, green roof created on the new teaching block.
Between the new school building and the Sports Hall, there will be a landscaped communal courtyard with a covered external dining/teaching facility, a proposed structure to house pv and around the perimeter of this area will be a seating wall with a landscaped embankment behind it. There will also be a Performance Space Amphitheatre with terraced seating in the embankment.
Two grass football pitches have also been proposed and the existing grassed playing fields and hard surfaced multi-use game areas will remain. The redevelopment has a 2023 target completion date.
Lytham St Annes High School in Ansdell meanwhile has submitted proposals to build a new large two-storey teaching building and a new sports centre at the site. Plans also include relocating the car park as well as two sports courts.

Consultation on future rounds

The Department for Education is also launching a consultation to gather views on how to prioritise schools for the remainder of the programme, following calls for more transparency on how schools are chosen.
The first 50 schools were identified in data collected by the department in the Condition Data Collection and verified through collecting additional condition information. The CDC was commissioned by the department and collected data is the only
comprehensive and consistent set of data on the condition of schools in England.
The department says it defines rebuilding need, in order of priority, as structural or safety issues that mean a building is not fit for use, or is likely to become unfit for use soon, because it poses a risk to users. Building need is also assessed by whether there is severe deterioration in the main building fabric meaning that the most efficient way of returning a building to good condition is to rebuild it or carry out a significant total refurbishment. Another factor in rebuild consideration is if mechanical and electrical systems are close to failure and could cause a school building to close in the near future, but only if this would require a major refurbishment to rectify, or if there is other need in the building fabric that makes a refurbishment/rebuild most efficient overall.

T-Level facilities and spaces

The Department for Education has also announced it will be investing £50 million in colleges, schools and sixth forms delivering T levels across England from 2022 to improve and expand teaching spaces and facilities.
Sixty-five building projects will receive a share of the funding, where they will get industry quality equipment for hands-on experience right from the start of their training, and high-tech classrooms.
The funding will be used to refurbish buildings and facilities, including upgrading classrooms and creating specialist spaces such as teaching wards, and building or improving laboratories for health and science students.
West Suffolk College is one of the providers to receive a share of the investment, to refurbish and create new facilities to deliver Digital T Level courses, including a mixed reality suite to explore uses of coding, and specialist classrooms and collaborative teaching spaces to enable informal learning.
Tameside College will create a health skills ward to support teaching on the Health and Science route, and Birchwood Community High School in Warrington will refurbish spaces to create a new laboratory and other spaces to teach Health and Science.
Dr Paul Phillips, CBE, Principal and Chief Executive of Weston College Group said: “The successful application for the T Level Capital Fund Building and Facilities Improvement Grant has enabled Weston College to transform facilities and develop new opportunities for learners to work with state of the art resources. As we move forward with the government’s skills strategy via the White Paper, funding such as this is paramount to realising the highly positive aims and objectives from central government.”