Latest firm to launch a standardised school concept

Laing O’Rourke and Atkins have become the latest partnership to launch a standardised school concept, with a model the firms claim costs up to 30% less per pupil to build than a typical school.

The concept uses standardised building components manufactured and assembled at Laing O’Rourke’s offsite manufacturing facility in Steetley, Nottinghamshire. The project has been revealed after Sebastian James’ review into school building urged the government to adopt standardised designs for schools in a bid to save costs.

The model uses standardised components to deliver bespoke schools, delivering them in 18 months. Laing O’Rourke says that using the concept, a 1,300-place school can be delivered for £14.3m, inclusive of fixed fittings and design fees. This is equivalent to a capital spend of around £11,000 per pupil.

The design and planning phase of projects, which makes use of Building Information Modelling, is timetabled for delivery in 25 weeks, compared with about 30-40 weeks for a Building for Schools for the Future school. The construction phase for the schools is 52 weeks, compared with 70-80 weeks using traditional building methods.

Philip Watson, education director at Atkins, said: “The blueprint utilises a kit of parts that responds to the needs of the end-user. This allows us to create a large variety of flexible, customised layouts that deliver huge cost efficiencies at a time when every penny must count.”

Willmott Dixon, Wates and Galliford Try are among other contractors to have developed standardised school solutions in response to the drive to cut the cost of education buildings. The government’s response to the James review, published in July, committed to pushing ahead with standardised solutions, although the detail of how these will be procured has yet to be clarified.

Holgate Kingstone School, built by Laing O'Rourke and designed by Atkins

Holgate Kingstone School, built by Laing O'Rourke and designed by Atkins