Pupils at Oakfield Primary School in Rugby were welcomed back after the half-term break to a brand new multi-million pound school building.

The school is the first to be built in the UK using a new standardised system, called Sunesis, which uses ‘off-the-shelf' designs to reduce costs and construction time.

The new 1,172 sq m building, which cost £2.2m and was built in just 32 weeks, will cater for 220 pupils and comprises seven classrooms, a hall, catering kitchen, learning street, staffroom and offices.

Sunesis was developed jointly by construction firm Willmott Dixon and local authority controlled procurement company Scape to help local authorities reduce the cost of building new schools. Compared to traditional design and build, standardised schools can be built for up to 30 per cent less.

By procuring the pre-designed Sunesis school through Scape, Warwickshire County Council reduced procurement time and fees associated with legal issues, feasibility studies, design and time spent at planning and procurement meetings.

Heather Fielding Headteacher said: "We are absolutely delighted with the results of this project which has created a 21st century education environment for our pupils that will have a positive impact on their learning. We were extremely pleased with the construction team who have listened to our needs and ideas from the beginning, before thoughtfully adapting these into a design that accommodates the particular challenges of our site. It's brilliant that Oakfield is the first school in the country to benefit from this innovative construction solution."

Cllr Colin Hayfield, Councillor Colin Hayfield, Portfolio Holder for Customers, Access and Physical Assets at Warwickshire County Council, said: "We have been impressed by the speed of delivery and cost effectiveness of the project, particularly in the current financial climate. We originally looked 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."

Built in the 1950s, 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, but for an extra £200,000 and by using Sunesis it was able to build a new school.

Cllr Heather Timms, Warwickshire County Council's Portfolio Holder for Children, Young People and Families, added: "We are proud to open a modern and 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 is great news for pupils and staff as well as saving 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."

Mark Robinson, chief executive officer at Scape, commented: "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."

Since Oakfield started on site, Southampton City Council and Isle of Wight Council have also opted for Sunesis schools and more are going through planning.