Team in focus
Somerset's new £18 million SEN school completes construction
Construction has now completed on Polden Bower SEN (special educational needs) School in Bridgwater, Somerset – creating additional much-needed school places for SEN students across the region.
The £18 million project, which started on site in June 2018, comprised the design and build of a brand-new purpose-built school for students aged 4 to 16 who require custom support and facilities.
The scheme features fully accessible classrooms equipped with the latest teaching technology, a warm water pool for physiotherapy, a sports hall and external spaces – as well as a café to help students develop vocational skills and encourage engagement.
Property, construction and infrastructure consultancy Perfect Circle – a company jointly owned by Pick Everard, Gleeds and AECOM – was appointed by Somerset County Council to complete the project as part of the local authority’s wider initiative to increase SEN school provisions throughout the district.
Perfect Circle provided project and cost management, design, technical advice, architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering design, planning consultancy and acoustic consultancy services for the project, which was accelerated by SCAPE Consultancy, a direct award framework that drives collaboration, efficiency, time and cost savings.
Victoria Brambini, managing director of Perfect Circle, said: “We’re very proud to be part of Somerset County Council’s plan to create additional SEN school places throughout the region, improving educational infrastructure for young people across the county and allowing students to have access to high-quality academic and vocational opportunities.
“Leaving a lasting legacy in the communities we work within is at the core of Perfect Circle’s ethos, and this project will enable us to do just that by enhancing the lives of present and future generations.”
Completing the scheme successfully has required high levels of collaborative working to overcome significant issues; from the site location in the Somerset Levels next to the M5 motorway, to encompassing the wide range of educational and support needs of the school population within a tight budget and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Stuart Francis, principal regional lead for the South West at Perfect Circle, said: “The project was successfully completed after navigating several challenges. The team had to undertake a major value engineering process, which led to a substantial redesign to bring the project in to budget, as well as building on a site with significant drainage issues.
“We also designed a bund to provide acoustic protection for the school from the neighbouring motorway, all while maintaining strong and collaborative working relationships between all parties.
“However, our teams are experts in navigating complex and challenging builds, finding solutions and making sure the works carried out meet expected requirements, so we were able to successfully deliver the project to a high standard. We have a great relationship with Somerset County Council having previously been appointed to a number of its infrastructure projects, and we look forward to working with the team again in the future.”
Mark Robinson, group chief executive at SCAPE, said: “By creating a collaborative relationship and shared vision, Perfect Circle has helped Somerset County Council provide a high-quality educational facility for children and young people with special educational needs.
There is a rising requirement for SEND provision in the UK and this project seeks to apply quality design of a learning environment to help answer that challenge and will deliver much needed SEND provision for the local community as well as leave a lasting legacy by creating a learning environment where students can thrive. It’s a privilege to have helped accelerate this important project through SCAPE Consultancy.”