A Special Education Needs School to Provide Additional Places

Requirement:
A new special educational needs (SEN) school was required to double the capacity of Riverside Bridge in time for the start of the new academic year. This would provide much needed additional places at an earlier stage.

The project would form part of Riverside Campus, a £44 million, 23,000sqm school campus for the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham – the UK’s largest free school campus.

Solution:
The three-school campus for 2,645 children aged from 0 to 19, was constructed using a Yorkon off-site solution and designed by Surface to Air Architects,.

The first phase of the campus was a purpose-designed facility to increase the capacity of Riverside Bridge School initially to 64 children and ultimately to 160 places. It is operated by the multi-academy trust, Partnership Learning

Portakabin phased the construction programme to allow the SEN school to open on its new site ahead of the other buildings at Riverside Campus. On completion of the overall development, the SEN school will work very closely with the primary and secondary schools, creating an inclusive educational environment.

The use of a Yorkon off-site solution from the Portakabin Group for the curriculum areas of the campus significantly reduced the programme time for faster completion. This helped to address the demand for school places in the area as a result of new housing.

Off-site construction allowed the structure to be manufactured in York at the same time as the major ground works were progressed on site and created a high quality, watertight structure for fitting out much earlier in the build programme.

“Portakabin really understood how to work with special educational needs children and was absolutely brilliant. All the small details made the whole construction experience fantastic for us.”

“The new building felt very familiar to our children and part of the design was to facilitate the transition as some special needs children are very sensitive to change. The wide corridors, larger classrooms and overall design have created a really calm environment for the children. They love the floor-to-ceiling windows which overlook the outside play area and allow lots of light into the building for a very welcoming feel.”

“We participated in weekly meetings with the construction team which were invaluable and allowed us input into the design. This attention to detail has helped to make this an outstanding building. This was still a live construction site when we moved in but we were kept fully up-to-speed with how the wider project was progressing so we could maintain safety and reassure parents.”

“The Portakabin team were so mindful of the children’s wellbeing. They worked around the clock to complete the floor above us as far as possible to avoid noise which could upset the children once we had moved in. And site deliveries were restricted to avoid the times when our children arrived and left the school.”

Anna Hope, Head of School, Riverside Bridge

 

“Portakabin has been easy to work with, and the scheme has been on target to the advantage of our special needs students”.  

Jane Hargreaves, Strategic Director of Education, London Borough of Barking and Dagenham

Features of the SEN school include:

  • Wider corridors to help children who have mobility or balance issues, giving them a sense of independence which improves their confidence

  • A large amount of storage space in the classrooms with lockable cupboards to allow as much clear space as possible and maintain a safe learning environment

  • Hard-wearing solid ceilings as items can be thrown into the air which would damage tiled ceilings

  • Hygienic, easy-to-clean flooring which is ideal for messy play and painting

  • A sensory room with specialist lighting

  • Hygiene rooms located on each floor and equipped with a hoist to assist children in wheelchairs

  • A specially-designed SEN playground with timber trail ways. The children also have access to a mini outdoor amphitheatre and raised plant beds

  • An external canopy for each classroom to provide a sheltered outdoor space for learning and play

The Portakabin Group was the main contractor for the Riverside Campus project. The contract was procured and awarded by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham via the Council’s Local Education Partnership, Thames Partnership for Learning. It was funded by the Department for Education.

The scheme was the seventh school building contract awarded to Portakabin by the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham and follows on from two earlier phases at a school near to the Riverside Campus.

Building Location