This broader community impact is demonstrated at Michael Faraday Primary School, the first of three primary schools to benefit from the Southwark Schools for the Future programme, and funded by the council’s capital programme for primary schools. An adult learning provision was key right from the project’s outset in 2005 and the school – providing nursery, primary school, adult education and community facilities – has since triggered regeneration in the area. Headteacher Karen Fowler wanted a landmark building: “And I wanted the area to have a legacy of something special and spectacular,” she says. The circular, drum-like design contains two levels of classrooms, arranged around the ‘living room’, an open-plan learning area, designed to give the children a space to claim as their own. The architect, Alsop Sparch, ensured function was at the heart of the design, aided by close consultation with the children and their teachers. This beautiful school has had a positive effect on the pupils. Parent-governor Meriam Soopee says: “They moved into the new building in September 2010 and it still looks flawless. That’s testament to how much the kids love it, care about it and respect it.” While the building has already won two RIBA and RICS awards, the success of a school goes beyond its fabric. Fowler says: “A fantastic building like this can only enhance the work that is already going on. Our results have always been good, but it’s the quality of the experiences that the children have that have been transformed.” Another example of the difference BSF funding is making in Southwark is the new Tuke School for students aged 11 to 19 with severe, profound and complex learning disabilities. Rated as outstanding by Ofsted, Below: Harris Academy is England’s first academy for boys. right: The Walworth Academy is a popular choice. far right: Aylesbury Academy will be the temporary home to Sacred Heart, until it opens in 2014.
46 issue 8 winter 2011/12
and shortlisted for a British Council for School Environments award, it was constructed by Balfour Beatty to a design by Haverstock Associates. The £12 million ‘sensory school’ has its own hydrotherapy pool and specialist learning areas. “It is a safe place for students to come and learn so that they can develop their independence,” says headteacher Heidi Tully. “There is a big physical space, so students can move around the school in a safe way. Every area in our school is accessible to every student. It’s an entitlement.”
After less than a year in the new building, improvement can already be measured. “In our old school, the emergency assistance alarms would go off weekly,” says Tully. “But since we moved nine months ago, the alarm has only gone off once.” School governor, Elinor PerrySmith, says: “What Tuke embodies is the start of a new attitude to the proper education of students with special needs. It represents the acknowledgement that special needs provision can be a centre for excellence and it is a pioneer for Southwark Council’s vision for improving educational opportunities across the borough.”