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.”  




Taking the world by storm.

Sensory and Active Floor Graphics are taking the world by storm, as a way of providing Physical Literacy to schools. With a fun spin on education, there’s no wonder why! This is where ActivPath™ comes in; asking children to follow a path, balance, jump and follow numbers/letters is a perfect way to keep their minds active, improve motor skills and aid their learning development.

Sensory or Active Paths are an amazing tool for primary schools to help children’s development in this area.  Outside of the PE class these floor graphics can be utilised as part of other lessons ensuring maximum opportunity is provided to develop the physical literacy of their pupils throughout the school day.

Key Benefits,

  • Develops gross motor skills such as balance and movement control
  • Develops hand eye co-ordination
  • Develops spatial awareness
  • Gets kids to be active
  • Helps them to focus
  • Helps with sensory processing
  • Grows confidence

ActivPath™ floor graphics are designed to integrate learning with play. Kids can learn the alphabet, numbers and even planets in the solar system whilst being active.

We have installed ActivPath in a few schools and have been delighted on such a positive response from the schools.  Within the first couple of weeks they have seen the stimulation these graphics are providing the pupils.  Says Jackie Hamilton, Business Development Manager

ActivPath™ has been designed to stimulate and encourage activity indoors, similar to the painted line markings in playgrounds, but placed in corridors, hallways, or open indoor areas to allow children to participate as part of classroom learning or whilst moving around the school.

To launch the range Visual Group have developed a white paper to help schools understand how these sensory and active floor graphics can support a primary schools Physical Literacy program.  The white paper is free to download at

ActivPath™ can easily be used in schools without requiring skilled installers to fit them reducing the cost to schools.

The range has been developed to encourage movement and offer a supporting resource to teachers who are introducing a programme of Play Strategies into their curriculum and we will look to expand the range in the new year.

For more information contact

A world first in Cambridge: IB special autism school to open in 2021

The Cavendish School, the world’s first International Baccalaureate (IB) special autism school is set to open on the outskirts of Cambridge in Autumn 2021. Based in Impington, The Cavendish School will also be Cambridgeshire’s first state maintained special free school provision for young people with autism.

Initially admitting up to 40 students in Years 3 to 7, intake at the school will grow year on year, to a maximum capacity of 80 students from Year 3 to 13. The Cavendish School will be accessible and available to many families who cannot be catered for within current state provision in the county.

Ryan Kelsall, Deputy CEO of The Learning Alliance – a new multi-academy trust of which The Cavendish School is a member – said: “We are absolutely thrilled to be able to announce the plans for The Cavendish School to the public. Through our bespoke curriculum and teaching methodology, we will provide the educational environment that young people with autism need to thrive and succeed when their needs cannot be met in a mainstream school.

“The Cavendish School will celebrate diversity and accept, respect and recognise neurological and developmental differences to support each individual student through a differentiated programme that builds and focuses on their skills. Through the knowledge and expertise of The Learning Alliance, The Cavendish School will deliver exemplary education provision for students with Educational Health Care Plans.”

The first of its kind, The Cavendish School will be an IB World School, which means that it will follow the IB programmes and accredited qualifications, alongside specific therapies or interventions as appropriate for individuals. In an ever-changing world, the IB equips students with the skills, confidence and lifelong learning needed to thrive and make a difference. Each of the programme frameworks allows teachers to personalise learning to the unique abilities of their students.

Leah Cooper, Assistant Principal for SEND/PP and SENCo at the co-located Impington Village College, currently seconded to The Cavendish School, said: “Through our IB offering, we will provide our students with the skills and knowledge they need to become globally aware citizens, achieve a range of accredited qualifications and make measurable progress towards their own personal outcomes. Our individualised approach will ensure that we are offering the support and guidance needed to all who study with us, as well as helping families throughout the process. We will be drawing upon the success of our co-located mainstream schools (Impington Village College and Impington International College) to provide excellent opportunities for the students, through shared use of support staff and bespoke extra-curricular activities.”

At the heart of The Cavendish School will be relationships and the important ways in which they can support the growth of each student. Throughout the planning stages for the school, the team has drawn on the latest research into autism and used its expertise in education and experience of working with young people with autism and their families. Beyond high-quality teaching, therapeutic support will be offered, so that all students have full access to the curriculum, to learn and to achieve. The Cavendish School will offer students the opportunity for multidisciplinary support, which will be carefully matched to the explicit needs of the individual student.

Julie Bailey, Chair of Governors at The Cavendish School and doctoral researcher at the Faculty of Education within the University of Cambridge, said: “The Cavendish School aspires to remove the barriers to inclusion and achievement that many young people with autism face in their education. We’ve built on the best of current provision and the very latest research throughout the design and planning stages. The Cavendish School is set to have a transformative impact, giving its pupils an educational environment in which they will thrive.”



Subscribe to our services here by filling in this contact form

    Your First Name (required)

    Your Surname (required)

    Your Company/School (required)

    Your Position (required)

    Your e-mail address (required)

    Your Website (required)

    Your Telephone (required)

    Your Reason For Registering (required)