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.”