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Bent Primary School, South Lanarkshire

Bent Primary School, South Lanarkshire

The decision to keep this school in use at its historic location has allowed an existing asset to be successfully updated and learning conditions significantly improved for use by current and future generations of learners.

Overview

Bent Primary School is a small-scale, rural, four classroom school surrounded by open farmland. The existing school consisted of a stone 1800’s building with a 1960’s extension. The school had been poorly and unsympathetically extended resulting in inefficient use of space and also outdated environmental conditions. The rural location of this school drives a strong sense of attachment and identification with place, and this was a major driver for keeping the building in use. Full consultation with the local community was undertaken and a range of possible alternative locations for relocating the school were reviewed and rejected. The decision to keep the school in use at its historic location has allowed an existing asset to be successfully updated and learning conditions significantly improved for use by current and future generations of learners.

 

Approach

Consultation identified the importance of the existing 1800’s school building to the local community, who were strongly supportive of a refurbishment approach to ensure the continuing operation of the school. Suitability for refurbishment was reviewed through a carefully considered option appraisal process. The process threw up a number of opportunities and significantly identified the potential for removing the 1960’s parts of the school which were found to be in poor physical condition, and ill suited to meet the needs of the Curriculum for Excellence.

An early assessment of the size and arrangement of the original parts of the 1800’s school suggested poor levels of suitability for reuse as modern learning spaces. This became a key driver informing the decision to locate all learning and whole school spaces within the new build spaces to be added. All administration and support functions were grouped together and located within the historic fabric of the school. The general purpose area was also housed in this part of the building, ensuring full utilization of the available floor area, while also providing full use for the community and support services such as health visitors.

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Performance

The extension was specified and constructed to offer high levels of environmental performance as stipulated in the planning conditions. The whole building is heated using biomass fuel sourced locally and managed under a supply chain agreement offering economies of scale. The existing part of the building has also been upgraded to improve its operational and energy efficiency.

Very tight site constraints required carefully considered construction phasing and close working with the contractor. Local authority and school teams worked effectively and continually to ensure that construction phasing plans were monitored and revised where required. Key Perfomance Indicators were well established during the partnering stages to ensure performance during the site construction stages

Off site pre-fabrication for structural frame elements, helped reduce construction programme time and the respective preliminaries. Off site construction also required less site working area for construction activities. This further helped with phasing, decant, and Health and Safety requirements

 

Lessons

  • School closure in rural areas requires careful consideration and justification. Keeping the school at Bent in operation ensures and supports community cohesion and identity. Consultation with the community should be planned into the early project

  • establishment stages and sufficient time allowed to consider the community and learner needs. Continue consultation and re-appraise the outcomes carefully though the project stages

  • Develop the design closely with the school team. Pay attention to the knowledge that the staff and learners carry and include the views of key staff such as caretakers, admin and support staff – not just teachers and managers 

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