Key facts

Harrogate Grammar School, Arthur’s Avenue, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG2 0DZ

Red Kite Learning Trust

Value: £1.3m

Local labour: 89% Yorkshire-based labour

Duration: 10 months

The Brief

Harrogate Grammar School is one of the highest performing Academy’s in the area and because of this, demand for pupil places at the school has massively increased over the years.

As a result, they needed a trusted contractor to work with their architects to bring a complex major expansion project to life.

The Red Kite Learning Trust wanted to invest in a project of this scale with the purpose of creating a new space to improve circulation and provide a new student-focused entrance after many years of students, staff and visitors all using the same narrow access.

From the start, the key driver for the project is to improve the connections throughout the existing school, by connecting the old 1930s building to a 1960s design block.

The Solution

The solution was a complex and intricate one, involving the teams constructing an extension which infilled between two existing buildings and an external courtyard, to reuse space within the footprint of the 1930s building.

The extension was to take up two floors, with the ground floor providing a large, bright open circulation space for the whole school to access, whilst the first floor would add a further three classroom spaces.

The project also included creating accessible toilet facilities, a new staff office and meeting room, storage space, and plant rooms, and provision of space for a potential future platform lift.

The Challenges

  • Complex build at the very heart of the school resulting in significant changes to the movement of over 2,000 students around the school site.
  • The need to create a safe compound – adjusting pathways and fencing – so the project could take place safely within the tight space and live surrounding environment.
  • Covid was the biggest hurdle to overcome – the site had to be shut for three weeks to re-establishment working measures to meet Government guidelines and ensure the teams were working within a covid-secure environment.
  • Materials were delayed due to availability issues as a knock-on effect from the pandemic.
  • The interconnections with the existing buildings around the major expansion meant that safe access and egress for pupils needed to be managed at all times, including managing gates and pupil flow around the site.
  • Logistical challenges such as managing how delivery vehicles navigated to the construction site with it being so tucked away and in the middle of a live operating school.
  • Removal of a two-metre-wide link corridor to improve the flow around the building.
  • Protection of services within the school so that there wasn’t any lost time or service disruption whilst construction was taking place.
  • The steel erectors had not been involved in such a complex job before. The steel was erected higher than the building around it which also called for more challenges.
  • Ecological challenges – bats were found roosting in the existing building.

The Results

The result is a “flagship teaching space” which has massively improved the entire flow and accessibility to the school. The inviting new entrance has had a huge impact, providing an access point for the whole school and making it easier to travel from lesson to lesson, whilst also providing additional valuable teaching space to help the students thrive.

Considering the building was constructed in such a tight space, the way the building flows and works well with the original school design, makes it look like it was always meant to be there.

It is the attention to detail which makes the biggest difference when it comes to a project of this scale; with Hydration Hubs helping to create a much greener school, huge natural light-filled spaces, better ventilation and materials selected for the durability, longevity, and limited impact on the environment to create a more sustainable school.

What’s more, we made sure the children of key worker’s left their own lasting legacy on the school too. Despite the coronavirus pandemic limiting the amount of engagement we could have with all of the pupils during the construction period, we were still able to perform one of our favourite traditions – the steel signing.

The way the new build connects different sections of the school, eases congestion, creates an exciting student entrance and also provides three state-of-the-art classrooms is truly remarkable. Sewell Construction worked closely with us to create a safe compound, adjusting pathways and fencing so the project could take place safely. They were highly professional throughout and we felt that their approach chimed with our school values of respect, excellence, adventure, commitment and honesty. I am really proud of what has been achieved for our school. The way in which all the teams involved have come together has been a masterclass in collaboration, expert knowledge and providing the very best for children.

Neil Renton Headteacher, Harrogate Grammar School