Under Secretary of State for Schools visits UK’s first standardised school in Rugby

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Hill of Oareford CBE (second from left), is shown around the new building by representatives from Willmott Dixon, Scape, Oakfield Primary School and Wawickshire County Council.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Schools, Lord Hill of Oareford CBE, paid a special visit to Oakfield Primary School in Rugby, Warwickshire, to see construction of a school that could revolutionise how schools are built in the future.

Lord Hill, responsible for school funding and capital at the Department for Education, wanted to see first-hand how the standardised system, called Sunesis, can reduce costs and construction time.

Sunesis was launched last year by Willmott Dixon and Scape, a local authority controlled construction procurement company, to help reduce the cost of building new schools and meet the Government’s ‘more for less’ agenda.

Oakfield School is being built for Warwickshire CC. By using Sunesis it meant it could afford a new school rather than updating and extending the existing building.

During his visit to Oakfield, the minister learnt how standardisation and the Scape framework is cutting both time and costs by reducing high design, procurement and legal fees.

Also, by using Scape, the local authority can contract directly with Willmott Dixon to save up to a year in the process.

Lord Hill said: “We want to build schools more cost-effectively and more quickly. Oakfield Primary School is a great example of how it can be achieved and it was good to see some of the work being done.”

Work started on Oakfield in April and is scheduled for completion in September 2012.

The new school will comprise seven classrooms, a hall, learning street, staffroom, offices and a full catering kitchen. Outside there will be an amphitheatre and multi-use games and play area.

Willmott Dixon’s Midlands managing director Peter Owen said: “This is really on the Government radar as it looks for ways to save money and deliver ‘more for less’ across its departments and in local government.  It’s the only standardised solution in the market that is actually taking off and being bought.

“In partnership with Scape, we are delivering the next generation of efficient schools that provide a first class teaching and learning environment for both teachers and pupils. As the first school to be built using Sunesis, Oakfield Primary will be an exemplar of standardised school design.”

Mark Robinson, chief executive of Scape, added: “It’s no longer possible in the current climate to deliver bespoke design and build solutions for public sector schemes. We have to be able to offer high quality facilities more quickly and with cost certainty in mind. That’s why Sunesis is proving so popular. We’re delighted that Lord Hill has been able to see first hand the positive impact that our approach is having.”

To view the full range of Sunesis standardised schools visit www.sunesisbuild.co.uk