First standardised school to be built in Rugby

A primary school in Warwickshire will be the first school in the UK to be built using a new faster and cheaper method of procuring and building new schools.

Warwickshire County Council has become the first local authority to purchase one of Willmott Dixon and Scape’s standardised school designs, which they launched last year under the brand Sunesis.

The two organisations launched the product range to help reduce the cost of new schools by up to 30 per cent and in doing so meet the Government’s ‘more for less’ agenda.

Sunesis delivers pre-designed primary and secondary schools at a fixed price and aims to achieve a cost per pupil of £8,500 – £10,000 against a typical school cost per pupil range of £15,000 – £20,000.

Warwickshire County Council has given the go-ahead to use a Sunesis school to create extra capacity at Oakfield Primary School in Rugby. They selected the Keynes model from the Sunesis range at a cost of £2.2m, adding in optional extras of internal sliding wall, play equipment and tensile canopy alongside free furniture.

Oakfield Primary School was built in the 1950s but owing to increased demand for places is in need of expansion. The cost savings delivered by Sunesis meant the school could have an entire new building instead of just adding a smaller extension.

The council will also save 26 weeks compared to a traditional model of designing a bespoke school and tendering for a contractor.

By procuring a pre-designed Sunesis school through Scape, a local authority controlled company at the forefront of driving down UK public sector building procurement costs, Warwickshire has reduced procurement time and fees associated with legal issues, feasibility studies, design and time spent at planning and procurement meetings.

The fast track construction time will see Willmott Dixon start on site this month and complete the project for the new school year.

Cllr Colin Hayfield, portfolio holder for customers, access and physical assets for Warwickshire County Council, said: “Sunesis will deliver all the accommodation we need and more. The value for money is comparable – if not better than our other projects – but the big advantage is speed.  There’s no other product that can deliver a fully designed school to meet the fast track programme we need.”

Mark Robinson, chief executive officer of Scape, said: “Cost certainty in the challenging financial climate is a critical factor for local authorities in delivering quality buildings within limited budgets. Through Sunesis, we’ve cut out a huge amount of waste so that projects can be delivered quickly and very competitively. We’re delighted to be working in partnership with Willmott Dixon and Warwickshire to get this first Sunesis project off the ground.”

The full Sunesis range of standardised schools are the Keynes, Newton, Paxton and Dewey, aimed at primary schools, and the Mondrian for secondary schools. Each model can be viewed on the website, allowing the procurer to see a model’s standard price and the optional extras they might require.

Peter Owen, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the Midlands and its sector leader for education, said: “This is a tremendous moment in the delivery of a new generation of efficient schools that provide an excellent learning environment but at significantly lower cost.

“This is about Willmott Dixon and Scape providing a real solution to councils who want their budgets, already under much pressure, to go even further for what they spend.”

Several other councils have expressed an interest in using Sunesis, with a potential £100m of projects in the pipeline.


Picture caption: An artist’s impression of the Sunesis ‘Keynes’ design building that will be built at Oakfield Primary School.



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