Work completed on showcase Bradford schools 09 Apr 2010

The experience of children with special educational needs in Bradford is set to be transformed after the opening of a purpose-designed school complex. 

The showcase development, designed by leading architects Race Cottam Associates, has seen the mainstream primary Merlintop, and Phoenix, a special educational needs (SEN) primary school, brought together to create a campus approach and ensure greater pupil integration.

Education design specialists Race Cottam worked closely with governors, head teachers, staff, parents, pupils and other stakeholders to create a design which incorporates sufficient and flexible accommodation for personalised learning, inclusion and extended schools provision.

Race Cottam were appointed by Educo, a joint venture between leading UK construction firm Costain and multinational Ferrovial Agromán, to deliver this project, which was funded by Bradford Council and the Government’s Primary Capital Programme.  Two further SEN primaries in Bradford also designed by the leading architects practice, Delius and Chellow Heights, have also opened their doors to pupils.

Design elements of the new schools, according to Building Schools for the Future (BSF) guidelines, include more welcoming entrances, wider corridors, more use of natural light, the creation of social spaces and more imaginative use of colour. Hydrotherapy pools are also a key feature of the SEN schools.

Simon Noblet, regional director for Race Cottam, said: “We are extremely proud of the schools and they will provide a 21st centre learning environment which should meet the Council’s aspirations to transform education in the district and community.”

“Connectivity between the two schools is extremely important. Despite being managed separately they share a common main entrance and play area to encourage children and staff to move between buildings. The single storey design solution gives easy access to all facilities within the premises.”

The SEN school caters for children with severe learning difficulties, physical disabilities, severe autism and more complex needs. The design had to take account of not only circulation and access for disabled people, but also the suitability of workstations, the layout of the school and the whole physical environment.

Simon added: “We needed to ensure that the design of the buildings allowed for accessibility not just for wheelchair users, but for children with a whole range of disabilities – visual impairment, hearing impairment, autism, etc, all of which have their own implications on building and external space design. Such implications have been addressed through various design features including acoustics, colour contrasts of walls, door and door frames and induction loops.

Race Cottam has developed a strong presence in the education market and its team of specialists has a growing track record for its sympathetic educational designs, responsive approach and ability to deliver showcase 21st century schools. Recently completed projects include significant, secondary schools in Derby and Doncaster as well as faculty and campus schemes for Sheffield’s universities.

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