The Brief

Following the 2017 inspection of Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) across the city, a SEND sufficiency strategy was formed by Hull City Council and its pre-procurement delivery partner, Hull Esteem Consortium Ltd. The strategy identified the need for more variety of learning environments, so SEND children could get the additional support they needed to access mainstream settings.

Dovetailed with existing plans to re-build Broadacre Primary School in response to growing numbers, the scheme to create Hull’s first purpose-built base for children with autistic spectrum condition was put to competitive tender, of which Sewell Construction was appointed.

From the outset, the brief was to design and create a shared facility whereby all spaces are interconnected, both within the new base and with the wider school to provide a flexible and blended approach to learning. The ability to access mainstream classes alongside their peers was crucial to support learning, integration, and enhanced pupil experiences – with the base providing a familiar, comfortable space to return to as and when needed.

On top of this, having outgrown the existing 40-year-old Broadacre Primary School, the new school needed to accommodate the growing population numbers in the area following the rise and expansion of local housing.

The Solution

The solution was to design and construct a brand-new school using a steel frame system and architectural blockwork, in keeping with modern methods of construction.

From the outset, engagement with key partners on the project was crucial. The working party included Hull Esteem, Hull City Council, the school, Humber Education Trust, and the design team. Our solution needed to take into consideration functional design elements that were compliant with a series of documents and school building bulletins, ensuring the highest quality was achieved.

Adopting an innovative approach, we hosted weekly design workshops from pre-construction throughout the entirety of the project. This was to scope out what was needed to develop a state-of-the-art building that enhanced both mainstream and SEND learning for the community. We utilised BIM to create a fly-through of the space allowing the school and the Trust to understand how the building would work operationally. A virtual “day in the life” allowed us to see how each element connected, understanding the full flow of the school.

We developed a phased delivery plan:

  1. Completion of the multi-use-games-area
  2. Construction phase – designed to fit in with the surroundings in response to planners and the new local landscape
  • Ground floor – x6 Key Stage One classrooms, open plan Foundation Stage space equivalent to x4 classrooms, x1 large hall with catering facilities, x1 small hall, 10-place ASC base with x2 classrooms, x1 sensory room, x1 de-escalation room, breakout area
  • First floor – x6 Key Stage Two classrooms, x2 group rooms, x1 food bay
  • Second floor – x6 Key Stage Two classrooms, x1 group room, x1 library, x1 SEND therapy room
  • Additional elements– wellbeing room, staff workrooms, reprographics, staff community area, enhanced outdoor area and brand-new equipment for enhanced learning, double height spacing and roof lightwells creating a bright and open environment, modern ICT upgrades including interactive white boards and additional storage space
  1. Demolition of existing school and landscaping to create additional playing fields

The Challenges

  • Access and egress – having to share road to site access with STRATA Housing development
  • Live school environment – segregating the existing school from the construction site and ensuring safety at all times
  • Car parking – site cabin set up on existing car park which parents and staff still had access to throughout the scheme
  • Material delays due to covid, Brexit and other global issues (not just locally)
  • Developing a first for Hull’s education estate – bringing together expertise, best practice and existing resource bases to create the first fully integrated SEND base within a mainstream primary school

The Results

From an outdated, 40-year-old, single-storey primary school, to a brand-new three-storey building increasing Broadacre Primary School’s capacity by 210 places.

Now a 630-place school, the new-build includes a 52-place nursery enhanced external spaces and teaching areas, and a fenced multi-use-games-area.

With sustainability in mind, the build is expected to achieve BREEAM Very Good, and incorporates:

  • Solar PV on the roof
  • Water saving dual flush sanitaryware
  • Lighting on PIR sensors
  • Combined natural and mechanical ventilation
  • Recycled materials including furniture, fittings and equipment from existing school
  • x6 dual electrical vehicle charging spaces

The whole project was built to satisfy requirements of planning to enhance ecology and green space within the area. With the demolition of the old school well underway, the former site will be transformed into additional large playing fields.

The children have also been enjoying bug hotels and bird boxes around the school, as well as watching first-hand wildlife interactions from the CCTV in one of the boxes.

The ASC provision has welcomed three new students already and the specialist teachers are relishing in the space they have to provide the level of both blended and one-on-one support necessary.


“This is just the best space and [it has] transformed the way we teach; you couldn’t imagine anything better really. 10 children with autism [have] their own space in here, but it also gives us the opportunity to blend their learning with the rest of the pupils. It’s so exciting, and [it’s] such a unique, inclusive space to teach in.”

“Working with Hull City Council and Sewell Construction on this project has been a pleasure. The process instils such a sense of pride in the whole team, especially when we see the excited faces of those it means the most to – the pupils.”

Gavin Barley, Managing Director, Hull Esteem

The school sets the bar for inclusive education, and we are thrilled to be able to offer support to pupils with autism in the purpose-built ASC Base. Working alongside Hull Esteem and Sewell Construction has been a pleasure.

Rachel Wilkes CEO, Humber Education Trust