Building schools back better, greener and faster

Modern methods of construction are changing the face ofschools construction, writes Scott Laird, Director, Reds10

The Department for Education (DfE)’s £3bn Off-site Schools Framework –incorporating modular and modern methods of construction (MMC) delivery –was launched in 2020 to promote the use of MMC and harness the benefits of collaboration and standardisation to make that vision a reality, sustainably and more quickly. One year on and it is already making a significant difference.

The framework is part of a wider government push towards modern methods of construction and is intended to deliver over 200 MMC schools in the next four years.

Reds10 has been central in helping to drive the first set of projects under the framework. Our role, as the off-site main contractor, has placed us at the heart of stakeholder engagement around this so farunder-used method of designing and building schools, encouraging close collaboration with local authorities, the end users and the design team to optimise the value that MMCcan bring.

The first project to contract on the DfE’s framework was Abbey Farm Educate Together Primary in Swindon, which was submitted for planning just 13 weeks following appointment and is aiming to achieve net zero operational carbon. Delivered using a federated BIM model, we have been able to reduce time spent on the project at every stage and facilitate automated configuration, better design coordination and development, clash avoidance and quicker approvals in the process. This has been possible because the DfE’s treatment of the MMC framework as a programme and their use of an output specification has enabled Reds10 to invest in the platform for delivery, which now includes net zero carbon configurators, hundreds of standard details and a fully federated BIM model, built with our integrated design team.

We also made the buildings more intelligent. A major advantage of MMC is that SMART technology can be embedded along with monitoring tools from the start with learnings from real time performance data being quickly fed back into future designs. SMART building controls are designed holistically with the M&E design to support the achievement of net zero inoperation, so schools can run optimally without too much intervention. This is being used at Abbey Farm to enable high performance, efficient management and reduced maintenance across the building and its operations. Other schools we are progressing under the framework will similarly benefit, including a new SEND secondary school on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent, an all-through SEND school in Havering, the primary school Waterside School in Nottingham, and the all-through SEND school Oak Tree School, Woking.

The framework is already ushering in the next generation of school buildings shaped around pupils’ needs, all while kick starting innovation across the construction sector. We need to make the future use of MMC asaccessible as possible, showcase its benefits and push the boundaries of what off-site can achieve. We hope to be one of many inthis quest! 

Related Stories
‘Open or shut?’ confusion over Government’s covoid-19 policy
Construction work at some English and Welsh schools was continuing as Education Design and Build went to press, but with the coronavirus escalating fast, pressure was mounting on the Government to order a total close-down.
Universities and built environment professionals battle to survive
As Higher Education Estates went to press, Britain’s universities were continuing to operate but only on a highly restricted basis.
Returning to school – returning to normal
Government permitting, Stable Events will be holding their 11th education building forum on 12th & 13th November 2020 @ The Belfry.
SEND school-building surge with 35 in operation by late 2022
THIRTY-FIVE new schools are to be built for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), the government has announced.
Leading life safety manufacturer, Hochiki Europe, has hosted a virtual roundtable in which experts discussed the pressing issues that surround life safety in our educational facilities. The online panel talk, available to watch online, comes as part of the manufacturer’s efforts to uphold high standards within the fire safety sector and support its industry partners in doing the same.