School built by Laing O’Rourke is among latest Barnsley BSF projects to complete

A £13m Special Educational Needs school has become one of the latest schools to open under the Barnsley BSF scheme.

The Springwell school, designed by Atkins and built by Laing O’Rourke, was one of the schemes that escaped the axe when education secretary Michael Gove cancelled the £55bn Building Schools for the Future scheme in July 2010.

The school caters for 3-18 year olds with special behavioural, emotional and social needs, and is based around a “kinaesthetic” learning environment where pupils learn through drama, dance, music and games.

The timber-clad building includes a biomass boiler and wind turbine, rainwater recycling and maximises natural ventilation and daylight through the use of glazed, roof-mounted cowells.

Philip Watson, design director at Atkins, said: “We understood from the staff it was essential they have a variety of flexible spaces necessary to support the needs of all the pupils, so that each student can thrive. We had to create a sense of intimacy, safety and homeliness.”

Josie Thirkell, executive head teacher, said: “The process of developing the design with the architect was fantastic because it brought new possibilities. We are delighted with the results … it has a calm and nurturing atmosphere and the staff and students love it.”

The school was delivered by the Barnsley Local Education Partnership, a public private partnership between Barnsley council, Building Schools for the Future Investments and Barnsley Partnership for Learning – a joint venture between Laing O’Rourke and John Laing.