Case Study

Post 16 SEND provision for Sir Charles Parsons School

Building type: Education | SEND
Project price: £1.1m
Completion date: 2023

Sir Charles Parsons is a school for young people aged eleven to nineteen who have a range of additional needs. This is the 2nd building TG Escapes has provided. The pressure on pupil numbers of all ages across Newcastle City was high so more space was needed in the main building. The solution was to create extra accommodation near to the first building to form a separate post-16 facility covering the complete curriculum. This second net-zero modular building provides four classrooms as well as ancillary spaces and achieves an A+ EPC at -31. Staff and students have kindly made a video about what their building means to them.

Pete Trumper, School Organisation and Capital Specialist at Newcastle City Council says of his experience working with TG Escapes at Sir Charles Parsons;

“As a capital team we like what we see at TGE and there’s something about having a trusted partner as well. There’s been a really good rapport that has developed with yourselves over the last 3 years that I have witnessed, it’s just easy. It just works really well. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years, and the building at SCP is the only building that I’ve never had any snags on at handover. Post occupancy, one or two things have raised their head, but they’re just users engaging with the building. As for the structure of the building – there was nothing. Amazing.

For me, a trusted partner and a good relationship with the team is better than any key performance indicator. Most modular builds are constrained to the standard dimensions of the lorries used to transport to site but you don’t get that feel with TGE buildings. They are unique and you’re not constrained by the size of the lorry, which also means you can have any shape you want. The building doesn’t look like it’s system built in a factory, but also the useability of the shape and design is important for our customers, the end users, which you wouldn’t find with standard units. TG Escapes are designed to suit unique needs and you also have an understanding of what auxiliary spaces are needed to accompany the basic space and the capacity requirements.”

SEND classroom at Sir Charles Parsons school

“The quality of the finished product is exceptionally good. The M&E is pretty simple – I like that. The only issue was the incompatibility of the fire alarm system with the rest of the school. Good things included the reinforcement of some of the walls to accommodate the hoists rather than putting all of the load onto the roof. Also, for this 2nd building, TGE offered a different option on the balustrading for the outside ramp, changing from timber to steel. I think it is aesthetically pleasing and it made the building look more permanent.

Staff, parents and students love the two buildings. They love the space and the crisp freshness of their appearance. They are very highly regarded. The more organic materials, particularly the timber, does link in with the biophilic agenda that we want to embrace. The doors that open out onto nature and the greenness of the space cuts away from the institutional feel that you want to avoid. It informalises the learning environment, which is nice.”

Exterior of SEND classroom at Sir Charles Parsons School

Howard Davies, Project Manager for Aura who manage the PFI contract for SCP explains the complexities of the project and the benefits of the TG Escapes solution.

“Charles Parsons is a PFI school. Aura are the PFI company in charge of the contract for the next 15 to 17 years or so that remain. So any changes in the project goes through a very long, convoluted and expensive legal process. You guys have worked on PFI schools before and are aware of this but to make this happen (because we can’t include it as part of our PFI contract) we had to go through a legal process to take the area of the site out to create an area for the council to build your buildings. So the buildings don’t belong in the PFI but the rest of the ground around still does. The pipes and wires to and from the building and the connectivity to existing school systems such as the fibre line which is what we’ve been dealing with this morning are still part of the PFI contract.

So it’s got an extra couple of levels of complexity in making it happen contractually. It is a building at the end of the day. It has got all the right equipment in it – it just doesn’t function like that. One of the challenges in dealing with it from an operational point of view is that there are more than third parties: there are third and fourth parties and beyond. There are many stakeholders and the TGE team has done tremendously well to cope and be patient and get the project delivered in trying circumstances.”

SEND storage area at Sir Charles Parsons school

“There was a clear procurement route for doing this because we had a strategic partnering arrangement with Newcastle City Council for delivering education on the back of the PFI projects that we were created to do. During this period they could come to us and we could turn around a value-for-money system without going out to open tender and the like. That’s notwithstanding our original benchmarking exercise that we did with TG Escapes to prove value for money across the piece, so we used that principle to move forward on the second project. We had to still meet the budget and deliver a demanding brief from the school in terms of time scales, what they required and everything else.

I think that everybody likes the space – the teaching spaces and the space around the buildings. The school and the council like the outside aspect that the buildings create as you have got verandas and outside cupboard spaces. In the classrooms, we’ve got a demanding brief to fit the special needs education that’s being delivered. We needed to get the space so we’re not constrained by pre-fabricated modules that say we can’t do this and that. You’ve got a flexible design solution that can be applied. You’ve got good finishing materials and a high standard of finish.

We’ve had very few snags on completion compared to many traditional builds – you do what you say on the tin programme-wise. It all goes like clockwork and it’s all lined up and it all comes through, that’s probably a testament to all the planning upfront from all of the parties. We’ve made this new build more sustainable. We’ve been able to implement solar PV on the roof to make the building hopefully as carbon neutral as possible in terms of everything it does so it keeps a lot of people very happy.”

Interior of classroom at Sir Charles Parsons SEND school

“The school likes the aesthetics. They like what it does. The new building has some built-in hoist systems, supplied by Hilron, and a PMLD room. In both this and the previous build we’ve got what’s called a life skills area which offers a full kitchen for getting the kids to learn how to cook and fend for themselves. The PMLD room is a shower and changing area in case students need to be cleaned up or to deal with medical situations. We’ve taken design cues from the original building that have worked well and have replicated them. Any other system, I don’t think, would be able to cater for them but the way your build philosophy works is flexible enough to take these kinds of things into account.

This has been my second project with TG Escapes and have not been disappointed. They have maintained their high standards for great design, fair cost and timely delivery. They cooperated with other trades around the site scheme and performed to a high standard in terms of workmanship and safety as well as programme and cost. Aftercare has been minimal and promptly attended to if needed.”

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"Its been a great service! They have had a positive approach to our project overall, engaged with all stakeholders from the outset and delivered a building that the end users appreciated. The works were delivered on time and to a very high standard. "
Howard Davies
Project Manager - Aura