Teachers and pupils at a Weston-super-Mare school blighted by damp and a leaking roof have moved into a brand new one thanks to Sunesis, the standardised school concept from Willmott Dixon and Scape.

Two years ago a news article on the BBC website highlighted that Ashcombe Primary School ‘has ongoing problems with widespread damp and rot, leaking roofs, dated temporary buildings and even badgers digging soil from underneath buildings’. At the time, Pat Brown, the school's chair of governors, said: "We are very concerned about the state of the buildings and our ability to keep them as safe and secure.”

That’s changed now thanks to a pre-designed Sunesis school built in just 10 months, allowing staff and pupils to move into their new home in the final weeks of the summer term. Timing was a key driver for the school, as they wanted to start the next school year with pupils, parents and teachers already familiarised with their new home.

Scape is a local authority controlled company providing savings and efficiency to the public sector through strategic procurement arrangements. By procuring a Sunesis school through OJEU-compliant Scape, North Somerset Council benefitted from reduced procurement time and savings against fees normally associated with legal issues, design and appointing a contractor. The fixed price of £4.6m also meant it met the council’s budget for a new school and the super-fast 40 week build period included the installation of furniture and ICT.

North Somerset Council chose from a suite of designs, opting for the ‘Keynes’ model for Ashcombe Primary School from the Sunesis standardised range. A single story L-shaped building with a wide central corridor or ‘learning street’ connected to classrooms and offices on either side, the school is now the first two form entry Sunesis school in the UK – accommodating a total of 420 pupils in an ‘A-rated’ energy efficient building.

Willmott Dixon managing director in the South West, Neal Stephens, says, “When you talk about our industry making a difference to people’s lives, this is what we mean. Thanks to our standardised concept that fitted the council’s budget, pupils can learn and achieve in a quality environment. Everyone is absolutely thrilled with it!”

Councillor Tony Lake said: “At a time when public spending is under more pressure than ever, the Sunesis system has meant we were able to commission a cost-saving school building that didn’t compromise on quality.”

Scape Chief Executive Mark Robinson explained “As a public sector organization, Scape meets increasing numbers of local authorities with school buildings in poor condition and limited budgets with which to provide replacement facilities. Sunesis is an approach specifically designed to maximize value through innovative pre-designed solutions and Ashcombe Primary School is a great example of a school in need that used Sunesis to deliver fantastic results on a tight budget.”

There are four primary school designs and one secondary with each developed for a different type of requirement. The models are: Keynes, Dewey, Newton, Paxton and Mondrian.