Building offsite to accommodate more pupils onsite


n our second look at school buildings this month, Paul Lang, Caledonian CEO,

examines how SMART offsite construction solutions can help alleviate the shortage of school places, through shorter build schedules that minimise disruption to the students, campus and the local community. As the population continues to increase,

councils are warning that there will be a shortage of places in secondary schools over the next few years. Currently 1 in 12 council led schools are over capacity and the figure is expected to rise to nearly half of all council run schools within five years if the problem isn’t addressed. Research recently conducted by a leading

procurement specialist has revealed that an additional 435,646 pupils will be joining the UK’s secondary school system in 2020, requiring over 14,500 additional secondary classrooms, each with 30 pupils, across the country. These 14,522 secondary school classrooms would need to be built over the next three years in order to cope with the increase in pupil numbers. In practical terms this would equate to over 400 brand-new 1,050 pupil secondary schools across the country. In addition, new analysis suggests that one in

five children will not be attending their preferred establishment amid higher competition for places. Figures from the ‘National Offer Day’ in March, which is when thousands of parents find out which school their child will attend, suggest that

in some areas of the country, where pupil numbers have surged and there is a shortage of school places, an even higher proportion of children have missed out on their first choice. The survey, by the Press Association, found that a third of pupils in London did not get their most favoured school and in Birmingham, around 29 per cent were not given their first preference.

A SMART solution Taking these statistics into account, it is clear that classroom overcrowding is becoming a bigger and bigger issue. LEA’s need to extend existing establishments and invest in new facilities quickly, to accommodate the increasing number of pupils. However, with a shortage of funds and

resources available, new schools, and supporting campus buildings, must be cost effective and built within short timescales. They also need to be of guaranteed high quality in order that the LEA achieves value for money. In comparison to traditional methods of

construction, the education sector can benefit enormously from offsite. Often, more than 80 - 90% of the work can be completed in a factory, like our Newark based facility, which is a quality- controlled environment unaffected by the weather. This reduces the chances of the build being put on hold due to adverse weather conditions. In addition, offsite offers minimal disruption to the both operation of the school

and the local community by ensuring rapid build and cutting down deliveries to site. This modern method of construction is also

suitable to more than just classrooms, it can be used to build all areas of the school including kitchens, laboratories, gymnasiums, changing rooms, large-span hall facilities, and offices, amongst others. Buildings can also be designed and built to an exacting specification, with a wide range of finishes and roofing options that fit seamlessly alongside any existing structures. Manufactured offsite and then assembled

onsite also creates a safer workplace, because it is a more controlled environment that requires less need for working at height. In addition, classrooms or whole schools can be completed within the school holiday window, meaning significantly less risk-assessed people on or around the site. With transportation and trade reduced there is also less traffic and noise impact on both the school and the local community. Modular is also more economical and better for the environment, as there is a dramatic reduction in waste and the consumption of materials such as cement, compared to traditional build methods. It is for these reasons that the education sector,

at all levels, is starting to recognise and embrace the benefits of offsite construction. So much so that we have recently been awarded a position on the £50m Education and Skills Funding Agency

ACS Cobham International School exterior

ACS Cobham International School interior 28 June 2018

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