Work has started on the £9M redevelopment of a Special Educational Needs (SEN) school in Hounslow which will help the council tackle its shortage of places for pupils with SEN.
Plans have been submitted for the Lindon Bennett SEN school as part of a multi-million pound schools expansion programme being carried out by Hounslow Council in conjunction with leading independent management, design and construction consultancy, Pick Everard.
The programme is in response to rising demand outstripping supply for mainstream and SEN places in Hounslow with the shortage meaning some SEN pupils have to be moved to schools outside the borough.
Cllr Tom Bruce, Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services at the council, said he was delighted that work at Lindon Bennett had started. He said:
“Too many parents and carers have to send their children to SEN schools outside the borough, which is both difficult for the families, and expensive. This is why Hounslow Council is delivering a schools expansion programme which will see 70 new places created at Lindon Bennett and Cedars special schools and will establish seven new SEN centres in mainstream schools, by 2015.
“We’re determined to make sure every child in the borough receives the best education possible, which is why I am pleased to see work starting at Lindon Bennett.”
Current projections suggest that by 2020, there will be the need for a further 254 primary and secondary special school places for children with autistic spectrum disorder or moderate learning difficulties. To meet this demand Hounslow Council agreed in October last year a further £28.million on special schools.”
Find out more about the council schools expansion programme here.
Pick Everard associate Steve Cummings is leading the design side of the Lindon Bennett project as well as overseeing the wider schools building programme.
“With a project like this it is crucial that we understand the needs of the clients and of the pupils – listening to their specific requirements is absolutely key to getting the brief right,” Steve said.
“It’s a huge challenge to fully understand the precise learning requirements of the pupils and to respond sensitively to that.”
“We have considered in detail how we approach the scheme design, so we do not disrupt access and logistics around the school as well as factoring in things such as colours and acoustics which can have a really positive impact in a SEN school,” Steve added.
The two-year scheme at Lindon Bennett SEN school involves the extension and extensive remodelling of the existing school premises including work on numerous specialist teaching spaces, classrooms, offices, a hall and kitchen areas.
A specific challenge is the school’s proximity to Heathrow Airport. “It means where over-cladding on the existing roof is required we have to greatly improve its sound reduction properties to ensure that the noise generated from planes on the flight path doesn’t affect the children’s learning experience,” Steve said.
“The need for improvement was critical for the school as the 30-year-old building, which is not in good condition, is used by children with severe, profound and multiple learning difficulties. High quality architectural design and space planning were critical for the success of this project.”
Work on the scheme will be carried out in two phases, to avoid disruption to the school. The first phase involves the construction of a new, large two-storey classroom block extension which is due to be completed by September 2015. Pupils will then be decanted into the new building while the extensive refurbishment of the existing building is undertaken and completed by September 2016.
The Lindon Bennett redevelopment follows the first phase of the Hounslow project which has seen Pick Everard work on ten primary schools to expand and improve facilities.
Pick Everard will be working on 40 projects at a combined cost of more than £150 million to improve Hounslow’s primary, secondary and SEN schools stock over a five-year period.