St Wilfrid's R.C. College

St Wilfrid's RC College, located in South Shields, is an outstanding school committed to inspiring and developing all members of its community. The school buildings were originally constructed between 1961 and 1970, with additional extensions added during the last decade. Due to the ongoing increase in demand, the school raised the PAN from 220 to 250, and a new project was initiated to accommodate the growing number of students.

The project was funded by the DfE through the Condition Improvement Fund (CIF). Project commencement was in November 2020, and project completion was achieved in May 2022.

Working with the school and other stakeholders, the project included various provisions, such as six new classrooms, an extension to the existing dining space to accommodate 200 pupils, new circulation space and staircases, removal of an existing accessible WC to facilitate access at the first floor, new additional toilet provision, removal of an existing external covered walkway, relocation of external catering pod into the Memorial Garden, re-provision of external dining areas in hard landscaping, and provision of new soft landscaping.

One of the key aspects focused on during the design and consultation process was the incorporation of integrated environmental strategies. SPACE proposed a fabric-first approach, which involved enhancing the U-values for the building, incorporating a photovoltaic array to the new roof, providing air source heat pumps, hybrid ventilation systems, and brise soleil to the southern elevation, reducing glare within the classrooms.

Additionally, we incorporated a wildflower roof and an attenuation pond as part of a sustainable strategy. This strategy included enhanced planting species, which were integrated into the curriculum, increasing biodiversity and providing a self-drainage strategy.

The design team worked together proactively and collaboratively, devising an innovative and thoughtful solution within a tight budget envelope. The team demonstrated various skill sets, including delivering all RIBA work stages from concept through to handover, good liaison with the local authority, including the Planning Department and Building Control, as well as prompt but considered responses to all stakeholder requirements.

The team ensured careful consideration was given to site segregation of the construction works and safeguarding pupils and staff, making it a successful and safe project for everyone involved. Overall, the project has provided seamless connections to the existing school, and the new provisions have exceeded expectations.

Fran Craik, executive head at St Wilfrid’s, added: “The project team really listened to our aspirations and shown great invention. A lot of care and thought has gone into its design. We are delighted."