Gentleshaw primary Academy New Classrooms Support School Growth

Croft Architecture Design New Classrooms Support School Growth at Gentleshaw Primary Academy

In Brief

Gentleshaw Primary is part of the Future Generation Trust Academies. The Trust was established in 2015 and Gentleshaw joined shortly after in 2017.

Our team were recommended to Gentleshaw Primary Academy by another school within the Future Generation Academy Trust whom we had previously worked with on another successful school project.

Gentleshaw subsequently contacted our team at Croft Architecture regarding a building project that they had been working on with another designer. They were trying to create new classrooms and toilet facilities in time for the 2019 academic year, but the head teacher at Gentleshaw didn’t feel as though the current design team were providing them the information that they required.

As a result of the poor communication with the initial designers they asked us to step in to drive the project forwards. The planning permission for the project was already in place, however, there were some matters to be discharged with the application and thereafter they required drawings for tender, Building Control Approval from the local authority and construction.

By extending the school and creating two new classrooms Gentleshaw Primary gains new extra valuable learning space with additional toilet facilities. The spacious new classrooms will provide the growing school with much needed extra accommodation that’s flexible, modern and light filled to assist the teaching staff to deliver fun filled, inspirational classes within a welcoming learning environment.

In Context

The school has been situated on the edge of Cannock Chase, Staffordshire since 1878 and enjoys the benefits of a rural environment. For nearly 150 years the school has remained at the heart of a Gentleshaw’s village community and they aspire to continue to provide an inclusive, nurturing and supportive learning environment, for pupils to thrive for years to come.

The school started back in the late 1800’s and has grown over the centuries to support the increasing population in the local village and surrounding area. The original building is a brick built Victorian school with an extension which was added in the late 1960’s to create extra classroom facilities. Although the school has grown over the years it’s still a relatively small school family, constrained by the dimensions of the site it occupies. The school was restricted for pupil growth by the existing classroom accommodation available, thus limiting their potential for expansion and development.

Gentleshaw Primary is part of The Future Generation Academy Trust and has less than 200 pupils aged 4 to 11 years. The school also includes a nursery to facilitate early years learning which is located on the main school site.

Gentleshaw are proud of their historic position within the small village and the community. They strive to embed a love of learning among pupils resulting in their children becoming more inquisitive, self-motivated and confident learners with high aspirations. To continue to lead exciting and engaging lessons, the teaching staff required extra classrooms, to help promote a welcoming and secure environment where their pupils can achieve their potential both personally and academically.

The school moto is ‘From little acorns grow mighty oaks’ and their expansion ensures successful functionality and sustainable future growth for the Academy to support the educational needs of the community.

Our Approach

The school has a limited amount of space which pre-determined the location of the new classrooms and toilets. Prior to our involvement in the project a new site had already been identified at the front of the building, adjacent to the roadside and the school had planning permission in place for two extra classrooms, circulation space and toilet facilities.

Upon our appointment on the project we held a consultation with school to verify that they were achieving everything they required. We asked them to share their thoughts to help us understand how their daily activities and school life could steer the project’s design to improve the learning environment for the Gentleshaw Academy family.

The development of the new extension for Gentleshaw intended to create a design solution that respected the site and existing buildings within its countryside village surroundings. The new classrooms sensitively emulate the existing Victorian brick building with pitched roofs, traditional period shaped windows and a red brick exterior, whilst the new classrooms interiors are spacious and naturally lit.

The open plan space within the new learning environments aims to free teachers from size and layout constraints, allowing them to focus, deliver lessons and inspiring young minds. The glazing imitates a Victorian period style with large church shaped windows providing optimal natural light during the day, ensuring that the sun is the main source of light in the classroom, not only to enhance the quality of learning, but also in terms of a sustainable energy solution.

To assist with project progression, we helped the school to ensure that all the planning conditions were actioned and discharged by the local planners to swiftly proceed to the next phase of the building project.

From our meetings with the school our team were extremely conscious that the project needed to take prompt action to acquire Building Control Approval for their project to progress, ensuring project completion on budget and on time for the school to open for the new academic year in September 2019.

After meeting to discuss the school’s aspirations we wanted to ensure that our client gained Building Control Approval in a timely manner. We immediately surveyed the site and started work on the detailed drawings for Building Control submission. The plans were submitted to Cannock Chase and Stafford Borough Local Authority Building Control (LABC) for consideration and project was successfully approved.

We wanted to ensure project continuity for the new classrooms to be built, ready, and delivered in accordance with the school’s timescales and budget. Therefore, building contractors were tendered prior to receiving LABC Approval so that the chosen contractor was prepared to promptly proceed with the next phase of work upon receipt of the required consent.

The construction phase progressed to plan as a result of a strong working relationship between the school, the contractor and our design team.

We worked extremely closely with Gentleshaw Primary and the contractor to deliver the newly extended learning space, safely, on time for the new school year and in accordance with their budget. The new design has not only, created valuable new classroom space to increase student capacity, but it now also means that the school remains at the heart of the Gentleshaw village community for many years to come. The additional new learning accommodation means that the school can continue to grow to support the needs of the a growing village, providing education to local families, who may have had to seek different schools outside of the village had the new classrooms not been built.

The new flexible learning spaces have provided the school at Gentleshaw with vital additional classroom space within a new, welcoming, light and modern environment, where the children can focus and enjoy their learning experience.

The school are extremely pleased that they now have flexibility and the additional space to grow their school family. We thoroughly enjoyed working with the Gentleshaw Primary to drive their project forwards within a short time frame, acquiring LABC Approval for their project to progress, ensuring project completion on budget and to complete in line with their programme for the beginning of 2019 academic year.

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