On the last day of term, one of our academy clients received excellent news: Government funding has been granted for the construction of two permanent build new classrooms. These will replace an aging 2-class modular unit, and will form part of a large site development project which is currently under construction.
One of the services we offer is the preparation of CIF (Condition Improvement Fund) bids for academies and sixth form colleges for capital works. Bids can be made for projects such as new roofing, heating systems, windows and doors, and also for capital projects such as replacement or refurbishment of classrooms.
Bids to the Condition Improvement Fund are always over-subscribed and the priority is to address significant condition need, and particularly to maintain safe and healthy school sites. A strong case has to be made to the Education & Skills Funding Agency to guarantee success.
The next round of CIF bid funding for 2019/20 projects should take place this autumn, but we can offer advice on how we can assist with your bid year round. If you are an academy or sixth form college, please get in touch for further information.
Henlow Academy undertook a number of improvements to their site over the summer. These included a link corridor extension to improve dining facilities, and also internal alterations to a couple of classrooms and the science laboratory.
We were brought in at the beginning of the project by the Academy’s Headteacher, Caren Earp. Our involvement included preparing drawings, administering the planning application and building control process with Central Bedfordshire Council, creating the technical design and specification, and subsequently the procurement and contract administration of the builders.
The first floor science room refurbishment presented some interesting technical and logistical challenges. A specialist laboratory furniture company was brought in to design and install a new bench configuration to increase the workstation capacity. The gas supply to the lab was also upgraded.
A new bright coat of paint has completed the refurbishment scheme, and the Academy is now well-equipped to cover the science part of the curriculum in the future.
We have recently completed our second project on the site of St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in Caddington. The school was seeking to provide extra accommodation for some of the pupils as a break-out space. Our suggestion was a neat single classroom unit in the form of a timber lodge, with a simple internal space suitable for teaching smaller groups. Fit-out costs were kept to a minimum, and the building is kept warm with electric storage heaters, avoiding the need for expensive service connections.
In addition, the lodge is environmentally-friendly with the use of a timber frame, cladding and recycled building products, as well as low energy lighting. Construction firm JET Construction were respectful and efficient, as well as accommodating last minute requests from the client, creating a well-finished learning environment.
The school is delighted with the new lodge building, and is already seeing the benefits of having the extra independent classroom space.
Parents and children were invited along to attend the official opening of a brand new pre-school building, which has just completed on the site of Clophill St Mary’s Lower School in Bedfordshire. PCMS Design has been involved in this project since its inception, working together with the school governors and management team on the design, planning application process, specification, tendering and finally the contract administration of the build.
There is a large bright playroom with kitchenette, plus a small admin area with office and store room. As the pre-school is on the site of a former Victorian school building, the design reflects some of those features with brick elevations and a slate roof, and tall feature windows at the end of the play room.
The official opening ceremony was attended by the Bishop of Bedford the Rt Revd Richard Atkinson, and staff are now preparing for the first wave of pre-schoolers.
Headteacher Karen Bingley said: “We were so pleased today to officially open our new pre-school building, which is a superb addition to the school site. PCMS Design has looked after the whole project for us, and assisted particularly in the later stages with contract administration. We now have a beautiful and well-designed building for our pre-school children, and the whole community will benefit from it for years to come.”
Popular middle school Henlow Academy in Bedfordshire is looking to provide additional pupil places in the near future, and came to us to prepare a design and specification for an exciting site development.
A planning application has just been submitted to Central Bedfordshire Council for a new four-court sports hall with associated changing rooms and a six classroom, two-storey block. The sports hall will allow the Academy to substantially expand the range of sports on offer, particularly during the colder months, and will be a valuable addition to the local community because it will be available for sports teams and clubs to hire outside school hours.
As the Academy will be have a temporary increase in pupils over the next 3-4 years extra classroom space is required, and our design incorporates the latest in classroom technology such as interactive white boards, wi-fi connectivity and automatic light and CO2 sensors.
A considerable amount of consultation was carried out before submission of the application in order to iron out any potential design issues in advance.
We are hopeful for planning approval in September.
It can be surprising how quickly the installation of new classrooms can be turned around when the need arises. In the case of this Bedfordshire school, once planning permission had been secured, the instruction to proceed was given to a specialist modular contractor who took only a month from factory build to installation on site.
PCMS Design staff had visited the factory only a couple of weeks previously to see the seven modular bays being manufactured and fitted out, so it was satisfying to see them being lifted into position so quickly. Two classrooms each measuring 56m2 will be available, plus a 42m2 group room, WCs and storage. Quality standards have been maintained throughout the manufacturing process, and the resulting building will deliver excellent insulation properties and performance.
The modular option offers a cost-effective and quick solution for schools (or businesses) requiring additional space in a hurry.
As part of our work for local authority schools, we offer consultancy services to examine building provision within school sites seeking to provide for future projected pupil numbers.
One such project is to look at the provision of school accommodation to serve Special Educational Needs (SEN) services within the Central Bedfordshire Council area. We have been appointed by the Council to analyse all six of their SEN school sites and present our report with future recommendations. The six sites are: Oakbank School (Leighton Buzzard), Chiltern School Primary and Secondary sites (both Dunstable), Weatherby Secondary School (Dunstable) and Ivel Valley Primary and Secondary School sites (both in Biggleswade).
Our approach will involve assessing current SEN accommodation and facilities and comparing this to the area guidelines, with the aim of making recommendations for future provision.
We were delighted yesterday to hear about our nomination for two Central Region 2017 LABC Awards. LABC (Local Authority Building Control) organise the regional awards each year to recognise excellence within the construction industry.
Our nominations are in the categories of Best Public Service Building for Chinnor Community Pavilion, and Best Educational Building for a new 3-classroom block on the site of Biggleswade Academy.
This is the 6th year running that we have received a nomination, and follows our success last year in the ‘Best Partnership with a LA Building Control Team’ category when we won the Central Region Award.
Our team is looking forward to the Awards Ceremony on Friday 5th March in Milton Keynes, and keeping their fingers crossed for continued success!
We were delighted last week to hear that planning permission has been granted by Bedford Borough Council for a new two classroom modular unit to be located within the grounds of Shortstown Primary School. This School serves a community just to the south east of Bedford. A growth in pupil numbers has resulted in a shortfall of teaching space, and so the modular unit will be used to boost the number of classrooms available.
Our bespoke design created a simple form and layout for the unit, which has a footprint of just under 200m2. There are centrally located facilities, including a separate room for smaller teaching groups or meetings and WCs. The appearance will be enhanced with horizontal natural cedar cladding.
School staff are really pleased with the positive planning outcome, and are presently engaged in finding a contractor to construct and install the bespoke unit which will be ready for occupation this Spring.
Another successful educational project was handed over earlier this week, when a two-classroom modular unit was completed on time and within budget. The new classrooms are at Ivel Valley, a special school located in East Bedfordshire for children with moderate to severe physical impairment and special needs.
Once contracts had been signed, the whole build and installation took only 12 weeks. Opting for modular units not only helps with limited budgets, but also offers a quick turnaround for sites that need additional accommodation in a hurry. Modern modular units comply with all the latest construction regulations, and can even be disguised to look like a permanent building! This particular unit has attractive stained timber cladding. There is also flexibility inside; our bespoke design includes not only the classrooms but also a hygiene/changing room with shower, storage space and two individual group rooms. The classrooms each have an interactive ‘teaching wall’.
Ivel Valley’s Head and teaching staff are thrilled with the new two-classroom block, and are already putting it to good use.