The UK’s first new school to be built using next generation standardized designs, reducing traditional design and build costs by 30%, will open in Rugby after the half-term break. To see a film, click here

Oakfield Primary School is the first school to have benefited from the suite of innovative new standardized designs called Sunesis developed by Willmott Dixon and local authority controlled company, Scape.

By procuring a pre-designed Sunesis school through Scape, which is at the forefront of driving down UK public sector building procurement costs, Warwickshire County Council reduced procurement time and fees associated with legal issues, feasibility studies, design and time spent at planning and procurement meetings. The school was also built in a remarkable 32 weeks.

The 1950s-built Oakfield needed to expand as many classes were already using additional temporary accommodation. The original plan was to extend the school at a cost of around £2m. However, with Sunesis, the school now benefits from a brand new school for £2.2m, excluding site preparation costs.

John Harmon, assets strategy manager at Warwickshire County Council said: “With the original budget, we were looking at extending and altering the current building, but analysis showed it wouldn’t be suitable for conversion into a 21st century school premises – a refurbishment option would have meant a poor learning space and the running costs would have been high.

“Rather than try and ‘make do and mend’, for a little bit more we got something much better – a modern flexible teaching and learning space, which minimises its impact on the environment both now and in the future. And we got it quickly too which saved money.”

Peter Owen, managing director for Willmott Dixon in the Midlands said: “Councils across the country are facing similar challenges; constrained finances and a boom in pupil numbers. Post the Government’s James Review of school buildings, Sunesis provides a new generation of affordable designs giving real value and quality for councils that need to improve learning space.

“We were delighted to be appointed by Warwickshire County Council to redevelop Oakfield Primary School and, using the Sunesis Keynes model, to provide a fantastic new learning environment for local children – all at less cost of a typical new primary school and delivered in record time.”

In addition to delivering cost savings, Sunesis can be delivered at pace, allowing for quick occupation of facilities by staff and pupils. Through Scape, construction of Oakfield Primary School started in February.

Mark Robinson, chief executive officer at Scape says: “This is a real milestone – not just for Oakfield Primary and Warwickshire County Council, but also for the construction and education sectors. In partnership with Willmott Dixon, we’re pioneering a new approach to delivering high quality and affordable schools across the UK. We look forward to seeing how the pupils and teachers alike reach their full potential in this fantastic learning environment.”

Saving money and reducing duplication is proving popular, since Oakfield started on site, Southampton City Council and Isle of Wight have also opted for Sunesis schools and more are going through planning.