Clearwater Primary Academy, Gloucester
Diocese of Gloucester (DfE Framework)
A ‘Forever Home’ for a nomadic Primary School which originally operated from dilapidated portacabins and then moved to occupy converted offices with no playground. The new Academy is a spacious home to 67 pupils but allows for 420-student capacity as the new housing developments in the area become occupied.
This project attracted controversy at the initial planning stages when local councillors and residents opposed the build on grounds of loss of community/leisure space, congestion, noise and parking issues. Kier assisted the Diocese in revising plans to achieve permission by moving the MUGA into the site centre and installing an acoustic fence. They also provided commentary on how traffic would not be affected by the building and operation of the school.
After the battle for a waterlogged piece of wasteland was over, further challenges came from ecological factors: slow worms had to be moved off site before the project could commence; environmental factors: the site is in a flood zone so landscaping was designed to retain flood capacity whilst still having space for school and playing fields; practical factors: a car park at the front of the site to facilitate a drop-off which did not affect the residential area; and extra H&S considerations for Covid-19.
It was imperative to select the right construction team with experience in proactively liaising with neighbours and residents who were opposed to a school on their doorstep. The site team maintained open communications and regular dialogue at all times. Weekly meetings were held with the community to provide answers to their questions and listen to their complaints without judgement. Before the build residents were used to walking their dogs across the site and Kier agreed to jointly fund with the DfE a new nature path with a boardwalk which was gratefully welcomed by the neighbours. They also created a forest school in the wetlands area.
During the pandemic the project initially lost five weeks due to issues with supply chain, labour and materials availability. Following CLC and Kier’s H&S guidelines to maintain activities and mitigate delays, the team rescheduled the programme and worked long and hard to pull back three weeks, fully crediting the dedication of our local subcontractors.
The school was designed to fabric-first K-school principles, being correctly orientated and well insulated to be operationally efficient. Exposed concrete soffits provide natural cooling; oversized windows are positioned high up to gain natural daylight, creating a light airy feel; corridors are wider than standard creating a sense of space; and teaching areas are provided with NVHRs and natural night purge cooling.
It’s a ‘breathable building’, sensors pick up temperature and CO2 levels and automatically open vents on wind catchers to circulate the air, actively promoting better learning spaces; (a 2% increase of CO2 in the atmosphere can effect a 20% drop in the attention span of pupils). Design was robustly scrutinized by the client’s project managers which resulted in robust detailing exceeding specification: air test target was 5, it achieved 3.9.
The project achieved 10/10 customer satisfaction from the School and the Diocese. It created 3 M&E apprenticeships, provided training programmes for subcontractors and hosted virtual tours for the school pupils.
“As a Trust we have found Kier a very positive partner to work with on the Clearwater CofE Primary School project. Throughout the pre-construction stage they listened to what we wanted, were proactive in finding solutions and very easy to work with. They were professional and efficient throughout and we would not hesitate to work again with them in the future.”
Rachel Howie, Diocese of Gloucester Academies Trust
“I’m excited because there will be lots of space to play in. We won’t need to move school ever again! I can’t wait to learn in it, and we’ll have so much more space compared to the other place.”
Bella, Clearwater Primary Academy, Year 2
A huge thank you. A stunning building. A fantastic learning environment. A very enjoyable experience.
Kate Moss, Head Teacher, Clearwater Primary Academy