Special needs school in Bedford celebrates £1.3m upgrade

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St John’s Special School and College has opened the doors to its new £1.3 million block of classrooms.

Lungfish Architects’ design transformed the Special Educational Needs school to create a learning environment conducive to specialist teaching.

The space has multi-use classrooms where six-12 pupils can be taught.

“The former units have now been demolished and in its place is a modern classroom block which has the needs of the pupils at its core,” said Kieran Roberts, architectural technician at Lungfish.

Ron Babbage, acting head teacher at the school, said: “The pupils have excitedly watched the building develop over the term – which has certainly added extra interest to their playtimes.

“We are a special school catering for 170 pupils aged two to 19.

“The portable cabins were purchased over time to provide additional space for our light, sensory and therapy rooms and we’re now really looking forward to using the new space – which will cater to primary school aged pupils.”

The work has been completed as part of Bedford Borough Council’s programme of works in replacing temporary buildings across the county.

Councillor Henry Vann, said: “It is fantastic to see such a milestone project in the Temporary Classroom Replacement Scheme complete.

“The council have been investing in the replacement of temporary classrooms for the past two years 
with significant improvements made on many school sites.”

Kieran Roberts added: “The pupils’ special educational needs have been at the forefront of the design process, with wide corridors being incorporated throughout and each classroom having its own disabled toilets, quiet room and additional storage areas to keep the learning spaces clear.

“This new provision is a lot larger than the original buildings, providing staff and pupils with an additional 250 sq metres. This has enabled scope for more open spaces with natural light also being of paramount importance to create an inspirational learning environment.

“A multi-use room has also been incorporated into the designs, creating an informal area for group activities, making best use of the space and enabling the children to safely play and learn.

“As a site, it was relatively difficult to negotiate as it had a steep gradient. This has now been levelled out to create a new wheelchair accessible area, opening the space up to an increased number of pupils.”

Councillor Henry Vann, said: “It is fantastic to see such a milestone project in the Temporary Classroom Replacement Scheme complete.

“Lungfish has been working with us from the start and has been consistent in their provision of high quality support and design expertise.

“The council have been investing in the replacement of temporary classrooms for the past two years with significant improvements made on many school sites. St. John’s Special School and College provides a supportive and happy environment through which their pupils, professionals and parents achieve together and this project will only enhance their important work.”

Mayor Dave Hodgson said: “It’s fantastic that the new, specially designed block is now open.

“Temporary portacabins have been replaced by a modern, permanent block designed in accordance with the pupils’ needs, supporting the school to provide high quality teaching and learning.”