The new modular SEND classroom at Appleton Academy

Project Details

Location: Appleton Academy Wyke, Bradford
Client: City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council
Contract Type: JCT Design & Build Contract 2016

Project Summary

  • Design and construction of a modular building to provide additional SEN space to meet increased local needs
  • Three classrooms, breakout room, washroom facilities, office, staffroom and plant room
  • Six modular bays
  • Teaching walls and padded wall to breakout room
  • Colours and acoustics designed to specialist SEND requirements
  • Western Red Cedar cladding externally to match aesthetics of main school building
  • Fire detection and intruder alarm installations
  • Recessed entrance lobby feature
  • Floor area 222m2
  • All groundworks, foundations and drainage
  • All associated external works including permanent fencing, tarmac surfacing and landscaping
  • Completed April 2021
  • Project value £459,000

The Challenge: A SEND classroom block where the design and materials complemented the award-winning architecture of the main school building

Appleton Academy is a mixed school offering ‘all through’ educational provision for pupils aged 3 to 19. Named after Sir Edward Victor Appleton, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1947, the school is located in Wyke in the City of Bradford. Appleton Academy is part of Exceed Academies Trust, serving some of the highest levels of social and economic challenges in the city. Schools within the Trust are some of the highest performing, both locally and nationally.

Aerial shot of Appleton AcademyThe Academy is housed in a high profile building that links the three phases of learning in a single circular building wrapping around a naturally landscaped central garden. When additional space was required for a SEND classroom block, it was essential that the design and materials complemented the award-winning architecture of the main school building.

“Enviro Building Solutions were appointed to build a new SEN unit on the grounds of Appleton Academy, Bradford. All works were completed on schedule, on cost and to an excellent standard, to the satisfaction of both the school and Bradford Council.”

Christophe Hamard, Senior Project Manager, City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council

The Requirement

With an expanding requirement for SEN places, Appleton Academy was seeking to commission a three classroom block to accommodate 18-21 children. With a very short window for completion of the project, modular building methods provided the best option in terms of speed, cost and quality combined with the necessary flexibility to incorporate all the different aspects required by this SEN build.

All work was completed in accordance with BB104 (Area guidelines for SEND and alternative provision) and BB93: Acoustic design of schools – performance standards, which includes specific guidance for SEND buildings.

The rear of Appleton Academy

Taking into account the short time window for project completion, the build was planned in careful detail to ensure material shortages due to the coronavirus pandemic would not impact upon completion times. Combined with this, working on an occupied school site with extremely strict access restrictions occasioned by COVID regulations and Health & Safety considerations made this a complex and challenging project.

An EPC A rating and excellent U-value results

Premium M&E specified at the tender stage by the client, coupled with the building fabric and make-up specified by Enviro Building Solutions means that this build achieved an EPC A rating. This was not a requirement of the contract but illustrates the overall build quality achieved.

EPC A Rating for the new Appleton Academy SEN ClassroomThe U-values for certain elements of the project also far exceed the minimum requirements, due to build design. The Building Regulation Part L report has highlighted an actual CO2 emission rate (BER) of 13.7 kgCO2/m2 per annum for the building compared with the target CO2 emission rate (TER) of 18.2 kgCO2/m2 per annum. See the report snippet below.

Building regulation report CO2 emission rate

Matching the SEN requirements

The team at Enviro Building Solutions has been responsible for a number of successful modular SEN classroom projects across the country. Specialist interior fittings included teaching walls and the installation of a padded wall in the breakout room, with colour choices, acoustics and lighting all designed to create the calm and serene atmosphere which was an essential component of the build.

The padded room at Appleton Academy

The objective is to create the perfect conditions for the four key areas specified in the Special Educational Needs and Disability Code of Practice, namely communication and interaction, cognition and learning, support for social, emotional, and mental health difficulties, and sensory and/or physical needs.

Security cameras and lighting installed at Appleton AcademyFor security and operational purposes, the build also included BMS (Building Management System), CCTV, and door entry fob systems linking into the school’s existing provisions. An additional benefit from the modular build has been a significant improvement in thermal transmittance (U-values) over and above the standard requirements.

“From an Estate Manager’s perspective, Enviro were easy to work with during the build phase and adapted to the need of the Academy throughout in what has been a challenging time with issues such as access and weather on site. Professional at all times, keeping me informed on a daily basis around the build. The end result is a building that fits in with both the appearance and the ethos of the Academy.”

John Wavell, Estates Manager, Appleton Academy

External specifications

It was also important to ensure the new classroom block sat well within the existing environment, alongside this striking building which has been commended for a number of architectural awards. The exterior has been clad using natural and sustainably sourced Western Red Cedar from Canadian forests, offering the highest levels of durability, stability and resistance to decay.

The near complete SEND classroom at Appleton AcademyAlongside the construction and internal fit-out, the team from Enviro Building Solutions also completed all necessary external works including permanent fencing, surfacing and turfing as well as the provision and installation of solid timber planters.  The design also features an attractive recessed door entry area.

With just eight weeks to complete the build, modular construction methods proved the ideal choice. All groundworks and foundations were completed on-site with the classroom bays constructed offsite at Enviro’s factory. Although severe weather conditions affected the actual installation, the entire build was completed on time and to budget.