Polden Bower SEN School, Bridgewater, Somerset
Perfect Circle was appointed by Somerset County Council to create additional school places for students with special educational needs (SEN) in Somerset.
The £18m project was procured via SCAPE, the UK’s leading public sector procurement authority. The newly constructed Polden Bower SEN school – situated in Bridgwater – has created 160 new places for students aged four to 16, offering custom and specialist facilities and forms part of the council’s wider initiative to increase SEN school provisions throughout the county.
Perfect Circle provided project and cost management, design, technical advice, architecture, mechanical and electrical engineering, planning consultancy, fire 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.
The council wanted Perfect Circle’s support in creating a two-storey, purpose-built school, which features fully accessible classrooms equipped with the latest teaching technology. Specialist facilities include a warm water pool for physiotherapy and therapy rooms. A new sports hall, external sensory spaces and a café will also help students to develop vocational skills and encourage engagement.
One of the wettest winters on record, together with the site’s location on the edge of the Somerset Levels, meant that drainage was a real and ongoing concern. The site’s location next to the M5 motorway and in close proximity to the local Community Hospital both required careful consideration in both design and construction techniques. Furthermore, there were a wide range of specialist educational and support requirements to be provided within a tight budget. The project was also completed within the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Completing the scheme successfully has required high levels of collaborative working to overcome significant problems.
Bringing pupils from two existing sites under one roof has provided a new hub for SEN students and a truly state-of-the-art facility. The school was successfully delivered through integrated collaboration between Perfect Circle, contractors Willmott Dixon and Somerset County Council.