Pupils settle in at Oldham’s newest secondary school

Students from Oldham’s Oasis Academy Leesbrook have been enjoying their brand-new school again after it opened late last year, just prior to the recent national lockdown.

The school, designed by Pozzoni Architecture and built by Galliford Try North West, is operated by the Oasis Community Learning Multi-Academy Trust and is located on the site of the former Breeze Hill School on Roxbury Avenue off Lees Road in Oldham.

Oasis Academy Leesbrook has been designed to be a school where all young people receive a personalised educational experience and holds 1,500 students between the ages of 11 and 16.

The main school building is a four storey ‘Super Block’ with an adjacent two storey sports hall and one storey building housing a fitness suite and PE classroom. Red brick was chosen as the primary material so that the school would be in keeping with the local design vernacular in Oldham, with the building’s form and materials reminiscent of the town’s industrial history.

The double height main visitor entrance is set back to provide a natural sheltered recess leading on from the external plaza, which offers a secure and welcoming arrival to the school. There is a second entrance for pupils which leads onto the performance hall while a third offers a dedicated entrance to the sports facilities for community usage.

To ease movement around the school, an ‘oval’ circulation system has been created, improving pupil circulation and reducing travel distancing between classes to reduce congestion. Staff areas are evenly distributed and positioned along circulation routes to enable passive supervision and wayfinding.

The social areas of the school include a large, bright and airy dining hall with two storey curtain walls, while a covered external dining area is also available for Year 11 students to use at lunch times as well as offering a social space for break time along with a nearby informal terracing area and grassed amphitheatre.

The school’s Learning Resource Centre takes pride of position on the first floor, acting as a mezzanine within the dining hall as well as offering views over the playing fields. The art department has also been positioned to enjoy inspiring views across the school grounds and neighbouring Leesbrook Nature Park.

The school’s sports pitches, multi-use games area and playground are also being made accessible to the local community, offering benefits for the wider health and wellbeing benefits of the residents across the neighbourhood as part of the Oasis Hub: Oldham, which runs activities designed to help build a strong, safe, and resilient community.

Catherine Mulley, Director at Pozzoni and head of the practice’s education team, said:

“We are delighted that the students at Oasis Academy Leesbrook have been able to start enjoying their new school again, which offers a truly exceptional facility for the local area as a whole. The project benefitted from being located on the very large site of a former secondary school and this has enabled the design to offer a spacious, inspiring and welcoming learning environment for 1,500 students.

“The opening of this school continues our ongoing relationship with Galliford Try in the education sector with Vanguard School, for the National Autistic Society Academies Trust via the Department for Education, which opened last January and received a Highly Commended status in the Education Estates Award 2020 for Inclusive Learning Spaces for All.”

Sarah Livesey, Principal at Oasis Academy Leesbrook, said:

“Oasis Academy Leesbrook is a school that is passionate about providing the very best for our families, our community, and our wonderful students who are our pioneers and the future of this community. This building is one small part of us delivering on our promise to do our best for this community by providing an inspiring, engaging and caring educational environment in which our students can flourish.

“We are proud that our Academy is already oversubscribed since opening in 2018; this is testament to our wonderful staff and students – the building now gives the staff, students and community the facilities that they deserve.”

Darren Parker, Managing Director for Galliford Try Building North West, commented:

“This has been a fantastic project for our business unit. By working closely with Oasis Community Learning we have enhanced the experience for the whole community creating greater social value along the way of the project, while in step with creating a new Academy for local students that we can all be proud of.”

For more information on Pozzoni Architecture’s work in the education sector, please visit: https://www.pozzoni.co.uk/projects/category/education