Athelstan Community Primary School, Extension and Refurbishment, North Yorkshire County Council


Athelstan Community Primary School teaches more than 300 pupils between the ages of two to 11 in Sherburn in Elmet and its surrounding areas in West Yorkshire.

The school needed to double in size to help tackle oversubscription and meet growing population demands.

Working on behalf of North Yorkshire County Council, Sewell Construction was chosen to build a new extension and refurbish and remodel the existing school building.


Collaborative working throughout the development phase was a necessity in order to work to the school’s objectives.

With the school continuing to operate while the work took place, considerations were put in place to help minimise any disruption throughout the build, helping to keep the school running as normal.

A new playground was created for the pupils before work began, linking a walkway path from the school building to the temporary playground, allowing pupils and staff to safely enjoy their break times.

Small windows were put into the hoarding on the playground to allow the pupils to watch the progress of their new school extension.


The extension was completed in a 59-week time scale.

Major milestones in the project saw the steel frame erected, which was signed by the pupils, brickwork for the new extension and internal refurbishment works in the original school building before handover in October 2017.

The team engaged with the staff and pupils every step of the way.

Pupils were also engaged in a safety workshop with the site team to help them understand what is involved in the building work. The workshop was also an opportunity to ask for their thoughts on how they would like the team to behave on site, with a special appearance from Ivor Goodsite, a construction industry mascot to engage with children and encourage safety on sites.

The children were then invited to design the hoarding which surrounded the development, complete with their site safety rules drawings.

Site Manager Paul Armitage enabled the team’s fortnightly newsletter to be translated into Braille for a young pupil who is blind, allowing her to also keep up to date with her school’s extension progress. Paul’s wife, Jules, who has also lost her sight, made this possible.

Local residents were made aware of the progress at the school and regular contact was maintained throughout. A vision panel was also created in the hoarding for a local 87-year-old resident who was keen to watch the progress of the development.

We coordinated with the school and their ICT provider outside of the contract to allow early access for their installations ahead of the construction handover.

In addition to the main construction programme, we also coordinated and managed the full decant, storage and return of the school’s existing furniture and teaching resources.


Work was completed on time, with 95% local labour and local spend from the Yorkshire region.

The school received a visit from Ofsted during the delivery of the extension and the site team also played a part in helping the school maintain its ‘good’ rating.

New play equipment will be installed for the children on the new school field in April 2018, during the school Easter holidays, and will be named ‘The Sewell Trail” as part of our lasting legacy.

The Ofsted inspector said the way the school worked together with Sewell was a model execution of a major development, which is absolutely fantastic. The support we received from Sewell throughout the whole project, but particularly during this important time, was superb. It’s a building we can grow into as the community continues to grow. It’s perfect

Karen O’Donnell Headteacher