Work has completed on Abbey Farm Educate Together Primary School in North Swindon. The school was delivered by vertically integrated offsite construction specialist Reds10.
Reds10 was appointed by the Department for Education (DfE) as principal contractor to design and build the school, which is part of the DfE’s four-year £3 billion ‘Offsite Schools Framework’ and will be run by the Educate Together Academy Trust.
The Offsite Schools Framework was established in 2020 as part of the Government’s drive for greater adoption of MMC to modernise the industry and increase efficiencies, cost savings and innovation within capital building programmes.
The construction of Abbey Farm ET Primary School began in May 2021, and the new building has opened its doors in September 2022, catering to 460 pupils from the local community. Located off Lady Lane, the school is set on a 4.6-acre site and is part of a wider residential-led mixed-use development by Redrow. One of the stand-out achievements of the project is that the building was designed as net-zero carbon in operation ahead of the DfE’s sustainability Output Specification (S21) official launch. S21 was introduced under the new construction framework in November 2021, calling for all new school buildings in England to reach net zero operational carbon.
MMC directly benefits the delivery of school construction projects, through reduced embodied carbon, quicker delivery programmes and less trades on site, which minimises disruption. Reds10 completed the majority of the school building offsite in its factory. In fact, the project achieved 87% pre-manufactured value (PMV), which is 2% higher than their commitment on the framework, alongside minimal waste through the use of MMC with 90% diverted to landfill, and over 100% reduction in carbon emissions under Part L2A building regulation standards for energy efficiency.
The building, which is net zero carbon in design, includes enhanced sustainability features such as air source heat pumps and photovoltaics, both mechanical and natural ventilation to maintain excellent internal air quality, aluminium door and window frames made from recycled materials, GIFA floorboards with 50% recycled content and timber cladding, which is inherently lower in embodied carbon. Using ThriveTM, its SMART building technology, Reds10 is able to analyse energy usage and production, generating accurate data to ensure that the building is operated at maximum energy efficiency going forward.
Nikki Buglass, Trust Development and Marketing Manager at Educate Together Academy Trust, said: “Abbey Farm ET Primary School has been in the pipeline for several years and it’s amazing to see this wonderful space about to open its doors to pupils. Reds10 have been instrumental in making this happen and their commitment to it has been incredible. In comparison to projects I am running in tandem, the modular nature of the build has reduced disruption to delivery, with regards to materials and labour shortages and time lost to inclement weather. The quality of the build is fantastic, with several of my subcontractors and the Fire Safety Officer, commenting on the excellent standard of work. What struck me the most was their process – it seems like yesterday that the site was just a field and now here we are with a finished building. The pace has been simply breath-taking.”
Joe Shepherd, Education Sector Lead at Reds10, said: “As Abbey Farm Educate Together Primary School welcomes pupils for the new school year from September, it is an exciting milestone for us, being our first school to be completed for the Department of Education’s Off-site Schools Framework. It shows that successful delivery of sustainable school buildings at pace and to budget is possible, through harnessing the power of MMC. As project lead, we were able to collaborate closely with the DfE, local authorities, stakeholders and the design team to bring to the fore the full potential of what MMC can offer to deliver a modern, sustainable and nurturing learning environment for pupils to enjoy for many years to come. Abbey Farm ET Primary School sets a new standard of performance for school buildings and we are proud of our central role in delivering the next generation of off-site schools.”
Claire Wakelin, Head of Education at HLM Architects, which designed the new school building, said: “We’re very proud to have been the lead designer for this fantastic new school. The school engagement process took place during the 2020 lockdown but, using our digital tools and consultation experience, we were able to quickly form close working relationships with the DfE and Trust teams. Our strategic design approach was centred on the creation of a high-quality, safe and secure environment for pupils, maximising the opportunity for learning and socialising. Biodiversity was also a major inspiration, resulting in an environment that seamlessly integrates into the surrounding landscape.”