Morgan Sindall Construction has successfully delivered a series of upgrades and new developments at Oakwood School in Horley, Surrey, which has significantly expanded its capacity.
Working alongside Surrey County Council (SCC) and construction consultants Pellings, Morgan Sindall’s Southern Home Counties business created a new two-storey classroom block to relieve pressure on class sizes at the school, which can now accommodate a total of 1,650 pupils.
Procured through the Orbis Framework, the project forms part of SCC’s 2030 community vision to provide the local population with the education they need to succeed, whilst ensuring a sustainable, green future for the local area. Thanks to this development, Oakwood School will be able to provide high-end educational support for Horley’s growing population.
The Morgan Sindall team employed its Intelligent Solutions approach to deliver a variety of benefits for the school and overcome challenges that arose during the project. This included guaranteeing that sufficient teaching space was available following supply chain issues caused by the war in Ukraine. The project team had to think innovatively and draw on its supply chain and expert skills to ensure the school could operate without any disruption. This saw a volumetric solution used to maximise available materials and space, which involved a modular unit being upcycled for use as an Inclusion Suite.
Another key example was that the Morgan Sindall team utilised modern methods of construction (MMC). This included incorporating a Streif closed panel structural timber building system, which was manufactured offsite and delivered in sections with pre-installed windows, doors, plasterboard, insulation, external membranes and first fix components such as cables and pipes.
Morgan Sindall also resolved legacy issues key to the day-to-day operation of Oakwood School. The tier one contractor mended defective drainage systems and improved how students and staff move around the site through internal remodelling, which altered the layout of corridors, classrooms and departments. In addition, Morgan Sindall upgraded an electrical substation and created extra electrical capacity, which enabled the school to install a new all-weather pitch.
As the site remained operational throughout the refurbishment, Morgan Sindall carefully scheduled the construction activity to minimise disruption to staff and students. This included undertaking certain refurbishments, such as the drainage improvement, during holiday periods.
As part of its commitment to delivering social value to the communities in which it operates, Morgan Sindall, alongside Oakwood’s Forest School, built and donated a community pond which is now being used as part of the Outdoor Education Curriculum. The contractor also provided five weeks of work experience for local students, attended careers events and provided amenities during the exam period.
Guy Hannell, area director for Morgan Sindall Construction in the Southern Home Counties, said: “There are many schools around the country that need to expand their capacity to accommodate the needs of growing communities, and Oakwood School is a great example of how this sort of upgrade can be achieved in order to provide inspiring and sustainable educational environments.
“Our close collaboration with Oakwood School and Surrey County Council has been pivotal to delivering facilities that meet the school’s needs in a flexible, agile way. This meant we could not only increase the school’s capacity but also improve aspects of the built environment outside of the original plan, but which have a significant impact on the ability of students to learn. Our holistic, Intelligent Solutions approach to this project stems in large part from extensive experience working with Surrey’s stakeholders, educators and community, such as at Westvale Park Primary which opened in 2021.”
Hayley Mathews, Business Manager at Oakwood School, said: “For us, the entire project has been a ‘wow!’ moment. Morgan Sindall has surpassed every expectation we had and made what could have been a very stressful time for the school an enjoyable and enhancing experience.
“The new school wing constructed as part of our expansion has given both staff and students excellent curriculum spaces, alleviating pressure and crowding around the building, and providing us with a standard to aim for in building improvements in other areas of the school. Students and staff find the environment created to be uplifting and spacious. The Inclusion block and refurbishment has provided a much-needed space for our vulnerable students, enabling work to be done with these students to reduce their risk of exclusion, and increase their attendance through effective interventions.”