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Laing O’Rourke and Atkins have launched a standardised school concept, with a model that costs up to 30% less per pupil to build than a typical school. With funding pressures in local authorities becoming ever more serious, can this new solution really deliver and what would its introduction mean for sustainable school design?


The provision of schools is at an important crossroads. There is a well-publicised bulge in the number of children needing school places and simply put the current schools estate is struggling to cope. While there is a substantial shortfall in the number of available school places over the next few years and an urgent need for many local authorities to prioritise and accelerate their school building programmes; this is all occurring at a time of falling capital budgets. In addition, Sebastian James’ recent review into school building in the UK, highlighted a number of areas of improvement for the future building of schools. The previous Government’s flagship ‘Building Schools for the Future programme’ was seen to be taking too long to complete projects and the costs too great. The need for ‘unique’ schools meant lessons were not being learnt from one development to the next. Schools also varied hugely in their ability to maintain the property in a good condition and utilise the sustainability features of buildings.

With so much to deliver and so much in a state of flux, can these complex agendas be met in a way that delivers the much needed learning environments


within budgets that the public purse can afford?

A VERY DIFFERENT APPROACH Laing O’Rourke / Atkins believe they can address many of these issues through its standardised schools solution, which takes a very different approach to the design and build of new schools. At the heart of its concept is the use of standardised building components manufactured and assembled at Laing O’Rourke’s offsite manufacturing facility in Steetley, Nottinghamshire.

The offsite manufacturing also has positive implications for the delivery impact on site and the environment. “The efficient construction systems offsite are much better not only for the environment but the local community as we can produce large elements of the school in controlled factory conditions improving safety, reducing noise and significantly reducing the on-site activity that you would get from a conventional build.” added Stephen Hockaday, Director of Education at Laing O’Rourke.

“In addition we can reduce wastage and ensure site emissions of CO2


down by 50%. Because of the precise nature of offsite construction and the ability to be able to produce building materials to highly precise requirements,

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