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New £5.3 million school opens for children on Highfields Estate near Littleover

Published: 8 September 2020

A brand new school, Highfields Spencer Academy, will open to pupils on 9 September 2020, only 9 months after work started on site.

Highfields Spencer Academy opening 2020
The new Highfields Spencer Academy: (left to right) Our Cabinet Member for Young People, Councillor Alex Dale with School Principal, Anna Jones and Spencer Academies Trust Chief Executive, Paul West.

There are expected to be 30 children at the school to start with, all in the reception class. A nursery will open at the end of September, with 12 children registered so far. Eventually there will be 210 pupils in total aged from 4 to 11, with 26 places in the nursery.

The school will be operated by the Spencer Academy Trust, and each September another class of reception children will join.

Built in just 9 months and just under budget at a cost of £5.3m, the building was handed over to the trust a week early. It is the first modular built school for Derbyshire.

Our Cabinet Member for Young People, Councillor Alex Dale, went to visit the day before the first pupils arrived. He said:

“I was delighted to be able to visit the school just before the children started.

“This was my second visit to the site, the first being when the work started just a few months ago and I am amazed how quickly it has been completed.

“It’s a fantastic building and an incredible environment for children to learn in to give them the best start in life. “I was very interested to hear how the school was built, with 45 pre-fabricated modules made off site. I’d like to congratulate all concerned, and Morgan Sindall Construction, for a fantastic job done in record time.”

The school is in Tutbury Avenue, and was commissioned by us to provide places for those who will be coming to live on the new Highfields estate.

Designed by Lungfish Architects, the single-storey, 15,510 square feet main building features 7 general purpose classrooms, a reception, nursery and a double storey main hall. External facilities include a soft play area, a large playing field, and a multi use games area. Students will also benefit from a visitors’ garden and allotment area. There will be an additional parking area and cycle storage facilities.

Chair of the Spencer Academies Board of Directors Donna Kinderman said:

“On behalf of the board of directors, we are proud of how Highfields Spencer has taken shape as a well-designed and visually stunning community school, set out for children to make the most of their learning and to give them the best possible start in life."

Spencer Academies Trust Chief Executive Paul West said:

“Reaching the point where we can welcome the first generation of children to the Highfields Spencer site has been made possible through close collaboration with Derbyshire County Council.

“Highfields Spencer will be led by local Principal Anna Jones. Over the last few months Anna and her team have worked long hours to get everything at the school ready, and it’s great to see all of this work now coming together for local children.”

As much of the work on the 45 pre-fabricated modules was carried out offsite, within subcontractor Eco Modular’s factory in Hull, it could be completed safely and efficiently, unaffected by the logistical challenges facing many construction sites around the country.

The school's external framework arrived with the windows and roof sections already in place, while M&E fittings were also completed within the factory, reducing subcontractor traffic to site.

Rob Cant, framework director at Morgan Sindall Construction, said:

“The case for modular construction in education has been growing for years. Efficiency, a reduction in embodied carbon, and future expandability have all been key drivers in the successful schools we’ve delivered in record time across the Midlands.

“The finished building undoubtedly enhances the education on offer to the local community taking shape around it and we’re incredibly pleased to hand it over early.”