Vital Essex SEN school upgrades underway

Morgan Sindall Construction’s Essex business has begun work onsite to provide a new extension and renovate parts of the Cedar Hall SEN school in Benfleet, Essex. 

The tier one contractor was appointed to deliver the £4.3 million project by Essex County Council (ECC). When complete, the upgrades will enable the school to teach an additional 80 students in a high-quality environment tailored to the requirements of its pupils.  

The construction work was procured through Essex County Council’s Construction Framework 2 (ECF2) and is being delivered in partnership with design and property consultants Concertus. ECF2 is a local government programme designed to rejuvenate elements of the local area to meet modern requirements, such as a growing demand for SEN facilities.  

Scheduled to be ready for the September 2023 term, the new development includes a two-storey main building complete with admin space, five classrooms, art room, library and a vehicle maintenance workshop to support the current curriculum. 

As part of Morgan Sindall’s Intelligent Solutions approach, modern methods of construction (MMC) are being utilised throughout the project. This includes the use of Structured Insulated Panels (SIPs) as a key aspect of the new two-storey building’s construction. 

Cedar Hall school works with children aged 5-16 with moderate learning difficulties and additional needs. The design of the new spaces has been tailored to suit the needs of its students. This will include design features such as blocking corridors to soften the noise created by air vents. 

The Morgan Sindall team have factored in a number of logistical challenges, such as operating amongst the confines of an existing school complex while minimising disruptions for the pupils and staff. To ensure that the work will be completed on time intelligent scheduling of the works will play a key role, for example the extension of major works such as water mains during holiday periods. 

Cedar Hall SEN school is set to achieve an EPC rating of A*. An energy efficient building fabric, photovoltaic panels on the roof and an air source heating system will help the school to achieve its sustainability goals.  

Andrew Harper-Rowe, Morgan Sindall Construction’s Essex area director, said: “We’re aware of the invaluable role specialist educational facilities such as Cedar Hall play in delivering the educational support today’s communities require. Recent projections suggest that the number of SEN places across the country need to be significantly increased, and thanks to this extension Cedar Hall will be able to teach an extra 80 students in facilities that have been built with them in mind.  

“Having worked on similar projects in Essex, such as Ramsden Hall Academy in Billericay, we’re able to provide invaluable insights and experience into delivering SEN focused facilities. We look forward to working closely with Cedar Hall, Essex County Council and Concertus throughout the delivery of this vital work and we know that the upgraded site will provide an amazing educational experience for Benfleet’s pupils when it opens its doors later this year. 

Cllr Tony Ball, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Education Excellence, Life Long Learning and Employability, said: “Essex County Council’s Everyone’s Essex strategy set our desire to improve outcomes for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged groups including children with special educational needs and disabilities. 

“We are committed to ensuring every child in the county has the support they need to meet their educational potential, and that they receive all the necessary support and resources. 

“The total numbers of SEND school places in Essex is continuing to steadily increase and this extension at Cedar Hall School underlines our commitment to meeting rising demand within the county.” 

Liz Harris, architect at Concertus said: “We are really honoured to be working with Morgan Sindall Construction and Essex County Council to deliver the Cedar Hall SEN school expansion. Although construction has only just begun, we are confident that the high-quality teaching facilities being provided, will be instrumental to the learning and development of children in the local community.”  




Esh Group launches new careers programme to embed construction into the curriculum


A brand-new school programme which aims to show young people how the curriculum directly links to careers within the construction industry has been launched by North of England contractor, Esh Group.

‘Construction in the Curriculum’ delivers a timetabled subject through a construction and built environment lens in a bid to inform students about careers in the industry and how their education applies to real life job roles.

The first workshop will see Esh staff take over a Maths lesson with students experiencing ‘a day in the life of a Quantity Surveyor’ to highlight the importance of maths skills in the surveying role. Students will apply the curriculum that they have previously learnt to a real-life scenario by calculating volume, length, square area and quantities from bespoke project drawings, as well as percentages and profit margins. 

The programme is now being rolled out to secondary schools nearby its construction sites across the North East, Tees Valley, Yorkshire and the Humber, with more than 130 students engaged so far.

Darush Dodds, Director of Corporate Affairs at Esh Group, said: “The launch of this new careers programme builds on our 11 years of experience delivering workshops within schools as we work hard to change outdated perceptions of the construction sector and encourage more young people to consider a career in the industry.

“Programmes which bring together business and education are integral in helping students make informed decisions about their future. With Construction in the Curriculum, we want to introduce students to relatable role models as well as help them understand how their day-to-day education can directly link to construction and the built environment careers.”

Esh has worked closely with a Tees Valley secondary school to align the programme to the curriculum and recently delivered sessions in five schools across the North East and Yorkshire. Sheralyn Cooper, maths teacher at Whickham High School, said: “The session was really engaging, it linked different topics of maths and applied real life experiences to bring the maths to life. The maths was perfectly pitched for the class it was delivered too. Overall, it was the best school engagement project I have ever been involved in.”

The programme launch follows Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s announcement that he plans to ensure all students continue studying maths until the age of 18. Dodds added: “The Prime Minister’s plans places emphasis on the role maths can play in preparing today’s young people for their future career. Many people may see construction as simply building and on-site trades, but the ability to calculate quantities, cost and dimensions, to name a few, is integral throughout the whole sector.

“While the first workshop is maths-based, our next steps will be to integrate construction into more subject areas, including, geography and design and technology.”

Last year, Queen’s Award-winning Esh Group engaged with more than 9,000 secondary school students through employability workshops and over 1,000 primary school students through its STEM-based careers programme.


AN ESSEX secondary school has become the first in the county to benefit from a net-zero carbon, modular building, creating hundreds of additional places for youngsters in the area.

The £2.2m project at Sweyne Park School in Rayleigh has been led by independent property, construction, and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard. Work involved the creation of an energy efficient building to house six new classrooms, a new staff room, office and storage space.

The new building has been designed specifically to support the teaching of children who are deaf or have a hearing impairment, using enhanced lighting and acoustic standards.

Energy saving measures include photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof, used to generate the electricity of the building, as well as LED lighting, trace heating on hot water supply pipework and a high-efficiency, fresh air heating system combined with air source heat pumps. This type of heat pump has been proven to be three times more efficient than a gas boiler.

Pick Everard was appointed by Essex County Council (ECC) in January this year to deliver project management and quantity surveying for the development. It produced multi-disciplinary designs for the council prior to planning, later fostering a collaboration with project partners Morgan Sindall to see the development through from April until completion.

Sweyne Park is one of three secondary schools in Essex that Pick Everard is working on for the council’s modular innovation project, with completion also due at Clacton County High School in Clacton-on-Sea, and Colne Community College in Brightlingsea in the near future.

Keith Prendergast, national director at Pick Everard, said: “We are really pleased to have completed this project with Essex County Council to improve the school facilities and increase the number of pupil places in the county. This marks the first of three projects to be delivered by Pick Everard for the council, continuing a longstanding relationship.

“We have worked closely with the client and a modular supplier to ensure the brief was achieved, to provide the high-quality education facilities the next generation of students deserve.”

Modular buildings are constructed off-site using the same materials and designed to the same codes and standards as conventional buildings – but in about half the time and with minimal disruption to the school. The build process is more environmentally-friendly as it reduces embodied carbon emissions. Build waste is also reduced by around 75 per cent.

The units also do not rely on refined fossil fuels like gas, and therefore avoid around 20 tonnes of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere annually.

Pick Everard quantity surveying associate, Tom Wint, said: “Modular builds are still a relatively new concept for schools but offer a greater level of flexibility and innovation. When compared to traditional on-site methods, Essex County Council has reduced the overall project time by six months by opting for modular builds, providing an efficient solution and allowing Sweyne Park School to open its new building at the start of the new academic year in September.”

Property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Perfect Circle – a company jointly owned by Pick Everard, Gleeds and AECOM – was appointed by Essex County Council to deliver project management and quantity surveying services, which have been procured via SCAPE Consultancy, a direct award framework that drives collaboration, efficiency, time, and cost savings.

Cllr Tony Ball, cabinet member for education, skills and training at Essex County Council, said: “The modular innovation project is successfully delivering essential new teaching space for schools to meet the needs of the local community. At the same time, we are delivering our ambitions to tackle climate change and working towards making Essex carbon neutral, as announced in the recent Essex Climate Action Commission report.

“We know that buildings are currently responsible for 39% of global energy related carbon emissions. This project plays a part in reducing those carbon emissions, while providing a high-quality, bright, fresh, and comfortable learning environment for children.

“Building this way also leaves schools with more money to spend on educating children rather than paying bills and maintenance.”

Pick Everard employs more than 600 staff across its 13 offices, providing a range of project, cost, and design consultancy services. For more information, please visit

Tilbury Douglas Construction Secures Two New Education Contracts in the West Midlands

Tilbury Douglas Construction has won two new education contracts in the West Midlands, with work starting later this month.


Located in Walsall both schools (The Ladder School and Walsall Studio School)

were awarded by the Department for Education under the EFSA 2017 Medium Band Construction Framework and will be operated by The Mercian Trust.


Designed in collaboration with Race Cottam Architects, The Ladder School will be an entirely new build school providing alternative provision for young people in the Walsall area who are at the risk of exclusion from mainstream education. Currently housed in temporary accommodation, the new two and three storey building will offer up to 112 students a radically improved learning environment for Key Stage 4 and post 16 education.


Principal of The Ladder School, Mr. Chris Bury said:


“I am very excited to see construction work start; the new school has been carefully planned to ensure students have the best possible chances to succeed. As a school community we cannot wait to move into our new facilities, the project will change the life chances for the students we serve.”


On an adjacent site, a second project to extend accommodation for Walsall Studio School will simultaneously be constructed. Walsall Studio School is a specialist studio school with a bespoke curriculum designed to engage students on a 4-year professional journey that allows them to thrive in the creative, digital and health industries. The new building will provide dedicated and specialist space to further this work.


Principal of Walsall Studio School, Mr. Darren Perry said:


“The new build development symbolises our commitment to providing a high-quality performance and a digitally rich learning environment that enables our students to thrive. As a school that champions industry-led learning, I am excited to enhance our unique Studio School approach for future cohorts of students.”

Commenting on the new developments, Simon Butler, Division Director at Tilbury Douglas Construction in the Midlands said:


We are delighted to have been awarded two new contracts which represent a significant investment in education provision in the West Midlands. Tilbury Douglas has a strong track record in delivering specialist education projects and we are looking forwards to starting on site.”


Works will begin in April 2021, with a completion date of spring 2022.



CONSTRUCTION has started to create a number of new classroom blocks at three secondary schools across Essex – adding 750 much-needed school places for pupils in the county.

The modular units will be installed at Clacton County High School, in Clacton-on-Sea; The Colne Community School and College, in Brightlingsea; and Sweyne Park School, in Rayleigh, as part of the Essex County Council-led scheme.

The designs for all three schools have been tailored to be as flexible and efficient as possible to maximise the benefits of a modular solution, while simultaneously meeting both the client’s educational needs and environmental requirements.

Leading independent property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Pick Everard has been appointed to deliver architecture, civil, structural and MEP engineering, and principal design services.

Keith Prendergast, director at Pick Everard, said: “We are really pleased to be working with Essex County Council to improve the school facilities and increase the number of pupil places in the county. These three projects are the latest to be delivered by Pick Everard for this client, continuing a longstanding relationship with the council.

“We have worked closely with the client and had close collaboration with a modular supplier to ensure the brief was achieved and the design was conducive with an offsite modular solution. This will provide the high-quality education facilities the next generation of students deserve.

“The implementation of modular for these projects has also allowed the overall programme time to be greatly reduced, meaning that schools will be able to make the most of their new classrooms much sooner than if the traditional construction route were taken. We look forward to seeing all three schools open their new modular buildings, and to seeing students enjoying and making the most of their new environments.”

Construction at the three sites is expected to complete later this year. 

Property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Perfect Circle – a company jointly owned by Pick Everard, Gleeds and AECOM – was appointed by Essex County Council to deliver project management and quantity surveying services, which have been procured via SCAPE Consultancy, a direct award framework that drives collaboration, efficiency, time, and cost savings.

Tom Wint, quantity surveying associate at Pick Everard, said: “Modular builds are a new breed of structure that offer modern facilities and a greater level of flexibility and innovation. However, completing them for schools is still a relatively new concept. As a result, strong collaboration between all partners is required to ensure a successful delivery programme that is completed on time.

“When compared to traditional on-site methods, Essex County Council has reduced the overall project time by six months by opting for modular builds, which are a great way to save time and money on a scheme due to providing an efficient solution – allowing Sweyne Park School to open its new building at the start of the new academic year in September 2021.”

A spokesperson for Essex County Council, said: “It’s really important for us that all pupils in Essex receive the best possible education and that there is enough capacity within the county’s schools for every single child. We’re pleased to be working with Pick Everard on a series of projects to provide high quality learning environments and meet the increased demand for school places.

“Taking a modular approach to these schools will mean that we can provide these all-important spaces and additional pupil places quicker than using traditional construction methods. It is so important to minimise any disruption to the operation of the school – especially now schools have welcomed back all students.”

For more information, please visit


Triton Construction has completed the delivery of a critical new £3.5 million extension for Chorlton Park Primary School in Manchester, despite considerable setbacks caused by the pandemic.

At the end of last year Triton secured the 12-month contract to demolish an existing 1960’s school block and replace it with a new state-of-the-art facility including 8 classrooms and a sports hall.  The works also included external drainage and landscaping.

The project was subsequently beset by considerable restrictions to site activity and supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic.  Since it was imperative that the school was able to access the extended facilities by the October 2021 term, Triton anticipated shortage of materials such as bricks and glazing and pulled out all stops secure advanced supplies. It also recalculated an already complicated contractor works programme to adhere to restrictive distancing rules to prevail.

Chris Quinn, at Triton Construction, said, “We are delighted to hand over the extension to Chorlton Park Primary School on time and on budget, despite the various setbacks.  With prior preparation and planning it is not impossible to deliver, even in unforeseeable circumstances.  We attribute this to the fantastic collaboration between all parties to achieve a common goal and the school itself has been hugely cooperative and flexible.

Triton Construction has extensive experience in all areas of the education sector with recent projects including a £6 million refurbishment and new-build teaching facilities at Astrea Academy Woodfield in Doncaster, a £1.95 million extension to Bolton Muslim Girls School, a £2 million extension block for Pennistone Grammar School in Barnsley, and a new £1.75 million classroom block extension for Sharples School in Bolton.

In the last few years Triton has seen a significant increase in work across the education sector.Over the last 12 months it has completed 10 school extension or upgrade projects valued at over £25 million.

Triton’s learning sector portfolio also includes a new library and further refurbishments for Leeds College of Music, a £2.3 million High Needs Vocational Centre for Shipley College, a £3.5 million science block and state of the art learning link for Bradford Grammar School and a £4 million transformation of a derelict building to house Norfolk Park Special School in Sheffield.



AWARD-WINNING construction partner Stepnell has made significant progress with three of its education projects in the southern region – Gordon’s School, Canford School and The Woodroffe School.

The projects, which all include the development of brand-new facilities for students and staff, have recently reached substantial construction milestones and contribute to Stepnell’s ever-growing portfolio of education clients.

Located in Woking, Surrey, Gordon’s School’s new sports facility was completed last month (October) following a £6 million, 36-week programme that continued to progress throughout lockdown. The ultra-modern build – designed by NVB Architects – includes a 1,223 square metre sports hall with associated changing rooms and supporting spaces. Stepnell also installed a new, all-weather 3G pitch with the help of S&C Slatter to provide a high-quality playing surface for both football and rugby.

Rob Speirs, regional director at Stepnell, said: “We’re excited that Stepnell is continuing to strengthen its position as a leading contractor in this sector and we are proud of our involvement in these projects that will help to facilitate learning for generations to come.”

Susan Meikle, bursar at Gordon’s School, said: “We are delighted with our new sports hall. Stepnell has had to endure the most difficult circumstances while building it – both weather-wise and because of Covid-19. We are grateful to them for their skill and professionalism.”

Throughout lockdown, Stepnell also remained on site at Canford School in Wimborne, Dorset, which is now gearing up for the next phase of its new, 56-bed boarding house. The £3.9 million development, which also includes a garage and external works such as paving, asphalt, fencing and top soiling, is due to be complete in June 2021.

Rob continued: “Despite this project commencing on the first day of national lockdown back in March, we were able to maintain our build schedule and complete site work through the implementation of stringent health and safety precautions that – we believe – have been central to our recent successes.”

Stepnell has also demonstrated its success in the educational sector with its latest project with The Woodroffe School, won through Dorset Council’s Smaller Capital Works Framework, that is also due to start on site in January 2021. The £2 million development will include a new, two-storey teaching block with classrooms and a group learning space, library resource centre and additional office space to help expand the school’s academic offering.  

Landscape work will also be undertaken to include the creation of new footpaths in the surrounding areas, providing full accessible circulation to the ground floor and accompanying lifts for disabled users.

The year-long scheme will pose a number of challenges, including the navigation of a live site and logistical difficulties – with the stand-alone new build cut into a hillside to accommodate for the elevated terrain.

Rob said: “We will continue to remain on site throughout this next stage of lockdown as long as it is safe to do so. We are committed to delivering our projects on-budget and on time, but the well-being of our employees is of paramount importance. We will carry on implementing these health and safety precautions with full vigour while monitoring any changes in the government guidelines to make sure we are adhering to the rules set in place.”

To find out more about Stepnell visit: or join the conversation at @Stepnellltd.