McPhillips were commissioned by The Witherslack Group to build a new Special Educational Needs (SEN) secondary school on the site of the former Wheathill Farm in Huyton, Liverpool. The Witherslack Group are the leading provider of specialist education for children with communication difficulties, complex social, emotional and learning needs.
This £4.8 million project took 44 weeks to complete and involved the demolition of an existing farmhouse and buildings and remediation of contaminated ground. This was a substantial build project which required the existing primary school to be linked to the new school and the new buildings had to accommodate the complex, diverse needs of the pupils within the school.
The works comprised of:
- building a new steel framed teaching block, kitchen/dining area, administration block and associated external works.
- creating a specialist IT/Media room and Science, DT and Food Tech facilities, fitted out with bespoke furniture.
- installing a commercial kitchen adjacent to a full height dining area with roof lights and acoustic panels.
- new reception, meeting rooms, offices and staff facilities.
- a new glazed corridor and additional classrooms to link the school to the existing primary school.
- new aluminium windows and curtain walling system.
- car charging facilities, a new bike/ bin store and a MUGA area.
In terms of materials:
- the building used a combination of brickwork, timber cladding and render.
- the roof coverings were a mixture of slates and standing seam which was also used vertically on the walls to the kitchen/dining block.
- external finishes included, block paving, tarmac, slabs and permeable grasscrete.
A key challenge facing McPhillips was completing the works in a live school environment, where the safety and wellbeing of both pupils and staff was paramount. Creating a positive, safe and nurturing environment for SEN pupils is key, so keeping the disruption to an absolute minimum was essential.
The design and build needed to accommodate the neurodiverse needs of the children, so stakeholder engagement and consultation from the very start of the project was a must. Day to day practicalities for staff and potential obstacles for pupils needed to be considered by everyone involved in the build.
SEN schools are complex environments, so there is no room for error. The needs of every individual pupil had to be taken into account and an alignment of vision was necessary from all parties involved.
Early stakeholder engagement and ongoing dialogue with our client enabled us to deliver the complex requirements of this build project. The McPhillips project team had a unified vision which helped us to work collaboratively with the client, staff and pupils throughout the project.
Having this joined up approach with the client gave us a better understanding of the needs of the end users – pupils, staff and parents/carers, so that buildings, facilities and outdoor areas could be built in accordance with those needs.
Works of this scale inevitably cause some disruption, but this was kept to a minimum wherever possible, in order to maintain the wellbeing of pupils and staff.
The project was completed on time and on budget. Feedback from the client, staff, pupils and parents has been overwhelmingly positive.
The new secondary school was linked to the existing primary school with a new glazed corridor and additional classrooms, which were completed ahead of the main programme to allow the client to take early possession of these areas for the new academic year.
McPhillips’ Project Manager David Morgan commented…
“ Projects of this nature are always complex, as the needs of the client are very specific and bespoke. The works needed to be completed on time, as the start of the new academic year is fixed and can’t be changed. We worked collaboratively with The Witherslack Group at every stage of the project, so that we could identify potential problems early on, work together to find solutions and minimise disruption to the day-to-day operation of the school. “