The plans seek to increase the capacity of the school for children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND). The planned new building will also provide much-needed facilities to extend the programmes and activities that the school offers to its students and their families.
Built in 2015, Highfurlong School operates from a purpose-built building alongside the Aspire Academy on Blackpool Old Road. The current facilities include a hydrotherapy pool, sensory rooms, bespoke outdoor education and play areas and is fully accessible for all pupils.
In 2021 the school was awarded ‘England’s School of the Year’ and ‘Blackpool Primary School of the Year 2021’ and winner of the Blackpool Inspirational Teacher of the Year award 2021.
Currently providing education for 111 students, the new building includes six classrooms, a specialist teaching room for the delivery of practical subjects such as science, food technology and life skills. Further ancillary services include a kitchen with dining and multi-use space, toilets and hygiene suites, as well as a community-facing café to encourage the local community to engage with the school.
Architectural, planning and building surveying practice, Cassidy + Ashton, is providing planning and design consultancy services and Eric Wright Construction is the appointed contractor.
Funded by government funding for new school places and SEND, the standalone extension will double the capacity of the school and will connect to the existing school via a covered walkway.
The new building will provide key learning and support environments to build upon an outstanding school and help facilitate the transition of pupils through teenage into adult life. As well as core learning indoor and outdoor environments, the café and shop will help to develop the pupils’ enterprise skills as part of a real-life curriculum preparing pupils for adulthood and to gain work experience.
It will be constructed as a mix of brick and render with blue feature window reveals. A controlled ventilation system, spacious circulation and key ancillary spaces are all integral to the design of the new building. Cassidy + Ashton has been particularly mindful to ensure the designs can be adapted and grow to meet new requirements for the school in the future.
Further details within the planning application include arrangements to gain improved vehicle access to the school via the adjacent Aspire Academy. Landscaping is planned to improve the updated access.
Architect Dominic Garrett, from Cassidy + Ashton, said: “We are proud to be a part of this life-changing project that will enable the school to offer its highly sought-after specialist facilities to more pupils. By creating a safe and comfortable environment for all pupils, our design benefits the student’s health and wellbeing by creating enhanced and inspiring learning environments.”
Stephen Knowles, special project manager at Eric Wright Construction added: “This is a new project that we have just started work on and will be delivered via the LEP Framework, which builds on our ongoing relationship with them.
“On approval, work is scheduled to start on site at the beginning of 2023 with completion planned by the end of the year.”
Highfurlong School is located on the outskirts of Blackpool and provides education for pupils from all over the Blackpool, Wyre and Fylde Coast area.
Head teacher Neill Oldham said on the expansion plans: “Following Highfurlong School’s sustained success and national recognition, we are delighted that this proposed expansion of the school estate will enable us to offer outstanding education and specialist facilities to more children and families in the local area.
“The new building will give us the space we need to continue to grow carefully and meet the demands for places that we have faced over the past three years. Cassidy + Ashton’s designs capture what we need but also protect the established green spaces and trees so that we can still enjoy our outdoor space and learning.
“We are very excited that the new space will allow us to bring in the local community too with a cafe and gift shop which will provide work experience and employment opportunities for our pupils as they prepare to leave education as young adults.”
Paul Turner, assistant director – School Improvement and SEND at Blackpool Council added: “This is a much-needed extension to an important school that will enable us to provide quality facilities to meet the needs of its students now and for the future”.
“We are very excited to see our plans develop and look forward to them taking shape onsite by the start of the new year.”