With the public looking to spend more time outside schools nationwide are looking at their footprint and working with specialists to ensure that they maximise year-round use of their outside space. One such firm is Fordingbridge Plc; a West Sussex based engineering firm, specialising in canopies and covered walkways.

“We have long worked with educators to help them increase the use of their outside space, and it is clear that the situation has hit home for many teachers,” explains Fraser Dixon, Business Development Manager at the firm. “Our regular installations cover a multitude of situations, whether it be an enclosed courtyard to create an additional dining space, or covering a MUGA for weather-protected sport, but the need among teachers for taking their lessons outside has been very clear.”

Trading over five decades, the firm specialise in the installation of a range of canopy structures, from simple tensile walkways and playground covers, to more elaborate designs capable of covering entire MUGAs and even enclosing courtyards to create weatherproof central atriums.

“As a business we are perfectly placed to work both with schools directly and through contractors and architects,” Dixon continues. “Historically canopy manufacturers were too often specified solely on price, leading to an increase in the amount of resellers who only installed standard, uninspiring structures in a range of predefined sizes. There was no nod given to quality, and therefore overall value, of the structures as they were simply ticking a box. The situation is now swinging, with architects, contractors and schools alike looking for quality and longevity in their canopies, along with more inspiring designs be it steel, tensile or a glulam timber structure. As we design and manufacture our canopies from under one roof, we can ensure the design meets the brief and the quality is second to none.”



Swalcliffe Park is a non-maintained specialist residential and day school near Banbury, Oxfordshire, for boys on the autism spectrum (10-19 yrs). The school is a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO) and is currently working with over 20 Local Authorities. The school is housed at Swalcliffe Park, which includes a Grade II listed building set in 23 acres of beautiful parkland. The focus of thier work is improving ‘Quality of Life’ outcomes for students and their families.

The school has recently commissioned their third eco-building from TG Escapes, the first being a Performing Arts studio in 2016 followed by a suite of autism friendly quiet spaces for individuals or small groups of students. Their new 470 m2 building will provide a Science Lab and prep room, IT room, changing rooms, toilets and a large staff room. Staffing has increased by 30% over the last two years due to increasing numbers of students, so the school needed additional professional space to enable staff to meet and collaborate.

Principal Rob Piner and Vice Principal, Rob Leigh explain their thinking in selecting TG Escapes’ modular timber frame system.

How are the existing two TG Escapes buildings working out for you?
Really well as they are really spacious and light spaces, and we can control the temperature in them so that they provide optimum conditions for our students.
The build quality has been really good, so five years on they still look really great and have weathered beautifully so they fit very naturally in their environment. The buildings feel as good as when they were first made and we haven’t encountered any issues in terms of on-going maintenance, despite significant usage over the years. In terms of overall fitness for purpose, we have to say we are delighted.

What were your considerations when choosing this solution?
What we like about the TG Escapes offering is the complete design and build package. When designing bespoke building solutions, some architects can get carried away and draw up prize-winning designs which may not reflect the realities of school budgets. TG Escapes are very straightforward and transparent about discussing costs and how this relates directly to the purpose of the building.
They are also very attractive buildings. We could have opted for something made from traditional construction materials, such as stone, as we already have listed buildings on our site. However, we didn’t want to try to mimic the original buildings and so chose a design that would sit sensitively within our setting and complement the heritage of the school. We are delighted with the end result and have had many compliments from visitors on our choice.
We also think the ‘green’ credentials are very important as all schools and public buildings need to. Having a roof design that enables us to install solar panels coupled with air source heat pumps, we really feel that we are making a difference to our carbon footprint. We can also use this as a really interesting curriculum project with our students.
In addition to this, the speed of building is much quicker than a traditional construction method and will enable us to have our new buildings this academic year, rather than a year down the line.


Why does this building system particularly suit your needs?
This style of building helps us to create autism friendly spaces with wide corridors as well as sensitive heating, lighting and acoustics. Our experience tells us that it works well with our students who have sensory challenges. In our new building we have used a concrete base to satisfy our acoustic requirements, and whilst we are aware this is not the most eco-friendly construction method, it is essential for our needs and TG Escapes were happy to help with that. The end result is an extremely solid building which also has total DDA compliance, enabling us to future proof our facilities to enhance Quality of Life outcomes for our students and their families.

How would you describe the customer service?
The service has been really first class. When you have a separate architect and builder there can be issues relating to communication, differences of opinion and difficulty with co-ordination. TG Escapes offer an outstanding service and all those involved in the process have been very responsive and receptive to our requirements and timelines. The construction team are very polite, you can tell they want to be here and want to do a good job. We are really excited about getting the keys for our new building, possibly sooner than we thought so that we can improve the quality of our provision for all who are part of our school community.

For more information and video case studies visit the website, email info@tgescapes.co.uk or call 0800 917 7726.


Samuel Ryder was a very small secondary school with about 250 students. The Local Authority decided to extend the school’s provision to cover primary and secondary pupils. Since then the school, with an outstanding leadership Ofsted rating, has grown in popularity and demand for places has outstripped capacity. Their timber frame modular building from TG Escapes was completed at the end of August 2020 ready for use in time for the students’ return to school.

The block consists of 7 English classrooms, the English team office, an SLT office, year 7 and 8 toilets, a media suite and 2 year 6 classrooms. Whilst price was the key criteria during the selection process, the sustainable nature of the building materials used was a benefit.

“Offsite fabrication resulted in a very rapid onsite construction. I was impressed by the speed of delivery, which occurred on schedule, and the site manager who had excellent communication skills and was extremely accommodating of requests to tweak the original design.“ Ian Cushion, Scholars’ Education Trust Estates Manager
Barkers Associates consultancy sent out invitations to tender to six contractors, from which a shortlist of three was drawn up. The key criteria were price and quality, but it was also very important that the company selected had proven experience of working with schools, and that the individuals with whom the school had contact were of the right calibre.
The energy performance certificate for this building is A+ rated at minus 24 making the building carbon neutral, or net-zero, in operation.
Mechanical & Electrical systems are key to producing comfortable building environments as well as achieving energy efficiency and our M&E consultant Designphase Ltd used a combination of 4 systems to achieve this.


•  Air source heat pumps to heat the hot water and most of the space heating.
•  A hybrid active ventilation system to efficiently supply fresh air and extract stale air.
•  LED lighting & lighting controls with daylight dimming to keep consumption to a minimum.
•  A solar photovoltaic system was installed across the roof.


The air source heat pumps specified produce between 3-4 kilowatts of heat for every kilowatt of electricity used.
The ventilation system tempers the incoming air with the hot air being extracted using low wattage fans to distribute the air and provide a comfortable environment.
The LED lighting is inherently efficient and the addition of controls like daylight dimming means that when the spaces are flooded with natural daylight, the lights will respond automatically.
Finally, a large 72kW solar photovoltaic array was installed across the roof to help offset the energy used in the building.
The combination of these systems resulted in a building that is both comfortable to use and provides a high level of energy efficiency that will benefit the end-users at Samuel Ryder and the environment we pass onto the next generation.



TG Escapes partners in achieving this are Metropolis Architects,  Solar for Schools, Passivent, Westcott Air Conditioning and Dextra.
“Energy efficiency was considered very important given the passion of many pupils for environmental issues. Rightly so – it’s this world that they are going to inherit. The students and staff find their time in the building wonderful. The primary occupant was the English department who feel very spoilt and lucky to have the experience of teaching and learning in their new classrooms. It was a very good experience from start to finish with TG Escapes, I would recommend them to others.”  Ian Bailey, Deputy Headteacher.



A model for outstanding education: how off-site modular construction and full turn-key solutions paved the way for a growing school with even bigger ambitions.

Make a difference. Be outstanding. That is the vision at the heart of Arundel Court Primary Academy in Portsmouth.

This inner-city primary school has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Teaching standards have improved at all levels, recognised by Ofsted as being good and outstanding in areas such as leadership and management, behaviour, curriculum, care, guidance and more.

After receiving funding from the Education and Skills Funding Agency to replace their ageing buildings, the next stage of their growth was to be their most ambitious yet.

Challenge: the only way is up

The existing school building was a sprawling single-storey block that has seen multiple extensions in every direction over the years. Nestled in a densely populated area adjacent to the main road, the limited space meant that sideways growth was no longer an option.

The proposal of a new three-storey building was not all plain sailing. Plans were subject to some local objection with concerns over proximity and overlooking of the new structure.

Solution: Less disruption, more flexibility

Modular buildings supplier and main contractor Elliott proposed a three-storey building that would make the most of the compact site. This allowed the build to take place on the existing small playing field next to the old school.

To alleviate concerns over proximity and overlooking, Elliott took up the offer of attending the design review panel to present sunlight path diagrams that had been incorporated into the proposed building’s design. With final approval granted, the project was split into two key phases.

Phase one involved the complete site set-up and strip, decanting pupils into temporary accommodation. Hoarding was placed across the site, with temporary access off Holbrook Road, and a full-time gateman to secure the area.

Construction of the new three-story 3,059m2 building began in January 2019. Accommodating 630 pupils, the state-of-the-art modular/hybrid units include  23 teaching spaces, main hall, studio space, learning resource spaces and administration rooms.

Taking advantage of complete design flexibility, the modular buildings incorporated all the advantages of traditional construction, with the added benefits of improved safety, consistency, and speed.

Complete with elevational treatment, brickwork, STO render and cedar cladding, aluminium external windows and doors, Elliott was able to create a more aesthetically impressive building, capable of satisfying all planning requirements.

Phase two saw the safe demolition of the existing building segregated from the live operational environment, along with all external works and final landscaping touches.

Elliott’s phased off-site construction process ensured that disruption was kept to a minimum while the existing school facility remained in operation.

Flexible maintenance and aftercare packages ensured that the smooth-running of the project would continue long after construction was complete. The permanent off-site solution includes 60 years of design life, 25 years structural warranty, five years’ product warranty and 12 months’ warranty on all other parts.

“Nothing is ever too much trouble for Elliott. They listen to the needs of the school and work collaboratively to find positive solutions and provide ongoing support. Thank you for everything!”

Karen Stocks, Headteacher

Why off-site?

Arundel Court Primary Academy chose off-site modular construction, in part, to keep disruption on-site and in the community to a minimum. The new three-storey building was built on the existing small playing field next to the old school, which meant less moving of vehicles, builders and materials to and from the site.

The turn-key solution also ensured that funding for the school could go further, sourcing everything from fencing to furniture and fire safety from one supplier.

Instead of managing multiple relationships, purchase orders and invoices, increased vehicle movements on site and time spent coordinating and communicating, Elliott provided a single point of contact, so teams could get to work faster.

Following the completion of the new school build, the existing school building was demolished and external works and landscaping completed to reconnect the new building with existing facilities and provisions.

The extra space offered by modular units makes it possible to welcome more parents into school, with dedicated areas to work with them and their children – a key requirement for the new school.

Source: Building


In the construction industry, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the importance of a simple classroom block. The latest addition to Ty Gwyn Special School may look like a normal school building, but it is packed with interesting features and was delivered using modern methods of construction.

The block is surrounded by security fencing with access-controlled gates and CCTV to ensure pupil safety when in school, and at either end of the block, bespoke, powder coated aluminium canopies cover small separate playgrounds for each class, leading to a wider playground with built in play equipment.  However, as the name suggests, Ty Gwyn Special School is no ordinary school, and this is no ordinary classroom block. Ty Gwyn is wholly focussed on supporting pupils who have profound or complex needs. Rated as ‘Excellent’ by Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, the school will educate children from three years to nineteen years old who might present severe or challenging behaviour.

The school needed a new block urgently to cater for a rise in pupil numbers – with less than ten pupils per class, classroom space is vitally important for the school. To procure the new block, Cardiff Council ran a mini competition via the SEWSCAP framework, which was subsequently won by Wernick Buildings.  The building is constructed using 18 individual modules which were manufactured in Wernick’s dedicated factory in Port Talbot, less than an hour away from the site. These were transported to site by lorry, then craned into position and bolted together to form the core of the building. The brick cladding and trussed roof were then added to the core to give a traditional construction appearance.

Manufacturing the building in a factory environment gave the project several advantages. Firstly, the building could be constructed at the same time as the foundations were being prepared, dramatically reducing programme length, particularly on site. Manufacture was also not affected by site conditions like the weather, making the programme even more reliable. This was vitally important for the school, who would need the building in time for the start of the new term.  The reliability of modular building was further tested by the outbreak of COVID-19. However, as a large part of the fit out had already been completed in the factory Wernick Buildings were able to minimise the operatives needed on site at any one time. Combined with careful site management, this allowed Wernick to continue work during the first lockdown, and ultimately the building was delivered ahead of schedule.



Providing a robust building which would be both a safe and calming environment for Ty Gwyn’s pupils who can sometimes present challenging behaviour, was important. This was reflected in the enhanced specification required by the council which Wernick embraced fully, enhancing their standard modular system to meet the requirements.  The painted internal walls were upgraded with impact-resistant plasterboard to better withstand the demanding classroom environment. The floor, apart from being fully non-combustible, was also enhanced to improve rigidity and acoustic performance. All the doors are also equipped with acoustic seals to reduce noise throughout the building and ALUMASC Safehinge anti finger trap system to avoid any opportunity for entrapment.

Acoustic performance was especially important for the withdrawal rooms off each classroom. These spaces can be used when a child needs a calming and safe environment. The walls and floor of these were padded to ensure child safety, and were also equipped with an observation window and AV system, allowing teachers to play music for the children from the main classroom. A ducted heat recovery system was employed in the ventilation in these rooms, and comfort cooling is used throughout the building.  The audio-visual system in the block is also a step above many standard classroom buildings. Aside from the withdrawal rooms and interactive whiteboards in each class, there is also a dedicated sensory room with controllable coloured lighting and interactive projections on the floor and wall which pupils can engage with.  All classrooms are also equipped with a DDA compliant toilet and shower room, as well as a ‘nurse call’ system to help staff in emergencies. Glazing throughout the building was also enhanced to reduce u-values and improve security by meeting Secured by Design standards.  As standard the windows had toughened glazing inner and laminate glazing outer.

A spokesperson for Cardiff Council commented: “The Wernick team were excellent to work with from start to finish.  Teamwork was at the heart of everything, and the team committed from the outset to deliver the project on time.  Working relationships were excellent, and this facilitated first class communication and ultimately the delivery of a highly successful project”


A new primary school is rapidly taking shape after the first buildings were lifted into place ahead of its opening later this year.

The landing ceremony was celebrated last month at the Ebbsfleet Green Primary School where the first units for the 420-capacity school were craned into place.

A virtual tour of the school in Ebbsfleet Garden City – due to welcome pupils from September – has also been released to give parents and children the first glimpse of their new school.

The school, which is run by the Maritime Academy Trust, will teach children from the garden city as well as helping to cope with increasing school place demands in Dartford and Gravesham.

The whole structure is built off site and then lifted into position using a 200-tonne mobile crane.

Richard Bysouth, operations director for Kier Regional Building London and South East, said the construction was like building “a large Lego set”.

He added: “Once the individual modules are connected together the building will be fitted out.The buildings which will make up the new Ebbsfleet Green Primary School are lifted into place. Picture: Ebbsfleet Green

“This modern, innovative method of construction has many advantages, including improvements in productivity, significantly reducing on-site waste and clear benefits in terms of quality, cost, and health and safety.”



As well as the modern classrooms, the school features a large open plan library at the entrance which is said to reflect the school’s emphasis on reading.

The light and spacious new rooms will be focussed around a large central courtyard overlooking grounds which will include a wildlife area, a dipping pond to explore life underwater as well as a vegetable garden pupils will help to plant.

The buildings which will make up the new Ebbsfleet Green Primary School are lifted into place. Picture: Ebbsfleet Green

Final groundworks will be completed by August allowing the first classes from the nursery to Year 3 to move from their temporary home at Bligh Infant and Junior School in Strood ahead of the new school year.

Various projects to mark the opening of the school are taking place to symbolise the historic moment.


Source: Kent Online



TG Escapes unique modular eco-buildings use traditional materials with sophisticated technology to create a standalone space with a difference. Their bespoke timber frame design system can provide buildings to suit most locations in a variety of finishes including timber or composite cladding, render in a range of colours and brick slips.

Their fully inclusive service allows them to create the perfect building to suit the clients’ individual needs with adaptable bespoke designs to fit most locations.

MATERIALS: The materials used in construction are integral to the eco-friendly credentials. They build with timber frame and sectional wooden insulated panels constructed offsite.

FOUNDATIONS: The foundations have been designed to reduce impact on the environment by using a minimal amount of concrete in a unique pad-based system or, when more appropriate, screw pile.

ROOFS: A Sedum roof is not only aesthetically pleasing all year round, but also provides a habitat for a rich variety of wildlife. A sedum roof significantly reduces rainwater runoff whilst lowering energy consumption.

TIMBER: Timber comes from sustainable forests (FSC and PEFC). These forests are meeting the needs of the present without compromising the needs of future generations. By practising an environmentally-aware land stewardship ethic the use of timber reduces the embodied carbon for any project and acts as a carbon store.

RENEWABLE ENERGY: They can incorporate solar power into all builds as a clean renewable source of energy.

INSULATION: The glass wool insulation used in the buildings is manufactured from a combination of silica sand and up to 80% recycled postconsumer glass that would otherwise be heading to landfill. This makes it one of the most environmentally sustainable insulation products on the market today.

SUN PIPES: Sun pipes capture daylight from the rooftop, through highly reflective tubing, and channel it to where it’s needed. The pipes offer brilliant natural light as an alternative to artificial lighting, helping to reduce energy consumption.



The buildings achieve A+ energy ratings with an air test of 5 or less through the use of:

• Ultra-efficient LED lighting calculated for each space to specific levels avoiding over lit areas using photocell detection and timeclock.
• Ventilation using a mixture of natural ventilation, ultra-energy efficient ventilation systems and low carbon fans with integrated controls that monitor both temperature and CO2 for optimum thermal comfort and air quality. It operates in three modes depending on the season.
• AA rated Mitsubishi air source heat pumps.
• Low carbon usage extract fans in toilets & kitchenettes.
• Water heating with an air source heat pump combined tank to reduce carbon emissions. Water controls can be installed on all urinal cisterns which, together with sensor taps, keeps the overall water usage to a minimum.
• With the addition of suitable PV solar panels, the buildings can be classified as ‘Carbon Neutral’ in use.
The buildings are designed to be aesthetically pleasing, ergonomic and highly practical but just as importantly, they are built to last. They expect buildings to last 60 years or more with appropriate maintenance. A Construction Line Gold member, an approved partner of the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) and a member of the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA), they have built over 700 eco-buildings country wide and customers score them 4.9 out of 5 based on 152 reviews.

‘Working with TG Escapes was very good. The buildings provide a better quality environment for staff and students.’ Estates Manager

“We couldn’t have asked for more! The building time was very quick but was completed to a very high standard with minimal disruption to the school day.” Headteacher

Single or double storey buildings range in price from £80k to over £2m and larger sizes can cost from as little as £1500 per m2.For more information call 0800 917 7726

or email info@tgescapes.co.uk


Rapid Ramp, the UK’s leading modular ramp and step manufacturer continue to offer a nationwide supply and installation service.


Their modular products are available from stock with a fully adjustable design to provide access to various sized playground and school buildings, including modular classrooms.

Unlike wooden ramps and steps that will burn if exposed to fire, the Rapid Ramp system is non-combustible and can fully comply with building regulations.

Installations remain flexible with fitters often working during the holidays to accommodate around the teaching timetable. Plus, fitters can dismantle and remove existing wooden ramps.

An in-house designer creates 3D drawings with each quotation, and site surveys can be arranged.




Contact details:  E: sales@rapidramp.co.uk  –  T: 01424 714646  –  W: www.rapidramp.co.uk/education







Offsite and modular building specialists Enviro Building Solutions have won a contract worth £2.8M for the construction of an eight classroom block for the Thomas Aveling School in Rochester. In line with exacting time schedules, work has just begun on site and the project will be delivered in September of this year.

Alongside the extra classroom capacity, the project includes an extension to the school’s existing sports changing facilities using traditional construction methods. In addition, Enviro Building Solutions will oversee the construction of a MUGA (Multi Use Games Area) canopy to cover the existing tennis courts, creating an all-weather play facility.

“Modular building methods provide the perfect solution for applications where timescales to project delivery are particularly tight,” stated Craig Reidy, Finance Director. “Traditional construction methods could not achieve the build schedules we regularly provide to deliver our projects in line with the requirements of our clients and end users. In addition, today’s advanced modular buildings combine cost effectiveness with versatility and sustainability; we build high quality facilities which often achieve EPC ‘A’ ratings, creating attractive and practical buildings designed to stand the test of time.”

The Thomas Aveling School is the joint lead school of the Fort Pitt Thomas Aveling Academies Trust (FPTA), which includes a grammar school, two high schools and two junior schools. It is an 11-19 co-educational, non-selective secondary school and a converter academy with specialist teaching areas for science, design technology, art and sport and a performing arts centre.

Enviro Building Solutions has already delivered a number of projects for Medway Council on time and to budget, and was the Council’s preferred partner for this build based on the quality and value of past schemes including classroom blocks for Rainham Mark Grammar School and Riverside Primary School.



Keeping pace with the demands for faster installation

#constructionindustry #sustainable #architects #localauthorities #contractors #developers #innovation #buildingtechnology #mmc #onsiteinstallation #newconstructionproducts


Building construction requirements are changing and traditional methods are finding it hard to keep pace with the demands for faster installation without compromising quality and technical skills in order to deliver the necessary speed, conformity and cost.
To meet these needs without compromise Sure-Rend have developed a range of products.
Supplied in a range of finishes, Brick Slip, Render, Timber, Aluminum and Architectural Profiles can be manufactured and delivered ready for fast on-site installation.  Window bands, preformed corners and special features can all be built into the panel design at the manufacturing stage.
Timber or steel can be used in the design of the supporting framework and support rails or special adjustable fixing brackets used to mount the panels on to the frames.
Suitable for both new-build and re-fit projects the lightweight panels are designed to be hung on the structure or existing building rather than relying on extra foundations.
Sure-Rend’s quality product solutions have been successfully serving construction for some time.  The extraneous impact that the first half of 2020 has brought to bear on the sector has made the product quality and speed of turnaround that Sure-Rend can offer an even more vital component in helping designers and contractors as we enter the second half of 2020 and forge ahead with recovery.