The handover of the new school being built at Tadpole Garden Village is scheduled for three days before the end of the summer term so that children and parents can make visits.
All images by Richard Wintle of Calyx
Tadpole Farm Church of England Academy opened in temporary accommodation at Redhouse Community Centre last September and will transfer during the summer holidays ready for the new school year.
When full the two form entry school will provide places for 420 children plus a 26 place nursery. In September some 150 children will move in.
The construction is being undertaken by Willmott Dixon, with site manager Paul Morris at the helm. He was responsible for managing the building of Redhouse Community Centre.
Design and supervision of building works is by Swindon Borough Council architect Nic Newland using the increasingly popular Class Solutions timber framed modular building system designed by him and council colleague Tony Currivan. Using standard sized sections which can be configured in different ways means a primary school can be built for under £5million instead of £7 to £8 million for a bespoke design.
Nic said: “The Class Solutions system gives ultimate flexibility so long as basic design rules are followed. The construction does not have a steel frame as that requires a long lead time for design and fabrication. The laminate wood frame and wooden roof supports are made to a standard size and ordered from stock. It means quicker delivery and we can predict project completion more easily.
“None of the internal walls are load bearing so areas of the building can be reconfigured as necessary. In other words, if a future headteacher adopts a different style of delivering the curriculum, changes can be made quite easily. And as the heating in the building is modular, any repair work, any rebuilding work can be isolated which means the school doesn’t have to shut down.”
The Academy will include a number of innovative and practical features. Roof lights throughout the structure and large windows will give it a light, airy feel, even on the most gloomy days. Nic and Tony have included child height mini-doors set in the walls between reception classes so that young children can easily move between one room and another to see their friends.
And instead of a standard height school hall, they have designed a church-like hall featuring a large window overlooking the surrounding fields, above a high level minstrel’s gallery where children can play instruments or a choir can perform, or even a bishop can give a sermon. In keeping with the design feel of Tadpole Village, they’ve used slate wall covering on the link units between classroom blocks, instead of timber facing found in other Class Solution projects.
The modular system has been used to build new Swindon primary schools at Croft and Wichelstowe, the special needs unit at The Ridgeway School and the extension at Even Swindon school. Design projects underway include schools or extensions at Abbey Farm, Commonhead, South Marston and Crowdys Hill.
Tadpole Farm Academy headteacher Jane Leo and the teachers made an initial tour of the building works on general election day as the school was being used as a polling station. “We all think the building is wonderful; we can’t wait to move in,” she said. “We are planning a series of events like a walk to school from our present premises in Redhouse and a family picnic at the new site, as well as tours of the building.
“The equipment and furniture has been purchased ready for delivery. At the moment the corridors look rather stark and straight, but they’ve been designed to allow us to create break out and group work spaces so the linear space will be curvy and interesting. The library space at the heart of the building is lovely; it’s going to be great for shared learning, group work and as a chill-out space.
“The light throughout the building is wonderful, particularly the large windows in the hall.”